Athletic trainer forms bonds and guides student helpers

January 29, 2023 — by Kathy Wang
Athletic trainer Caitlin Steiding poses with the football team during the football game senior night.
Athletic trainer Caitlin Steiding pursued her interests in sports medicine after dealing with her own injuries in high school.

Throughout her high school years at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, California, athletic trainer Caitlin Steiding recalls spraining her ankle often during her soccer games. Since she was never able to find a comfortable brace, she learned how to tape her own ankle and would often tape her teammates’ ankles as well. She never anticipated that dealing with injuries at a young age would lead to her lifelong interest in athletic training.

I liked being able to help people, so when I was looking at going to college, I thought more about how I could get into a job with sports and medicine,” Steiding said. 

Steiding’s high school athletic trainer and P.E. teacher introduced her to a sports medicine elective in her senior year. In the class, she learned about the causes of different injuries, taping procedures and how to apply those skills in labs. 

After graduating from high school, Steiding attended Santa Rosa Junior College, where she earned her associate’s degree in Kinesiology: Athletic Training Preparation, a degree focused on sports medicine. During her time there, she worked under the wing of Monica Ohkubo, the head athletic trainer and kinesiology instructor at SRJC. 

Not only did Ohkubo teach Steiding in her kinesiology class, she also helped her apply to four-year colleges as well as jobs after graduating college. In addition, Ohkubo’s kinesiology class allowed her to work hands-on with sports teams on the first day of school. 

“She gave me an experience that I would not have gotten at a four-year college had I gone to one right after high school,” Steiding said. “I like the fact that I got to do a lot of rehabilitation and be on the field with the athletes during games — I love being able to immerse myself in those teams.” 

After graduating from Santa Rosa Junior College, Steiding enrolled in San Jose State University’s (SJSU) athletic training program. There, she earned her Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training. At SJSU, she attended various internships located in SJSU, Foothill College, Santa Clara University, Harker Upper School and Irvington High School. Through these internships, she furthered her knowledge on taping techniques by preventing and taking care of injuries, and she even had an opportunity to travel with the Spartan football team to Boise and Fresno State away games.

Before starting her job as the athletic trainer at Saratoga High in 2021, Steiding worked at the Sports Medical Clinic in Santa Clara and the Golden State Orthopedic and Spine. She never expected to work at a high school due to her past experiences as an intern.

“I really wasn’t happy at the place I worked before and I never actually thought I was going to work in a high school,” Steiding said. “It was never on my radar because a few of my internship sites at San Jose State were high schools and I was dealing with high school parents, which wasn’t really my thing.”

During Steiding’s past job before working at Saratoga High, she lost her rhythm with athletic training. She wanted to work somewhere that would make her love being an athletic trainer again, so after seeing a job opening at Saratoga High, she decided to apply for it.

As the athletic trainer, every day looks different for her, though it is often packed with preventative care such as concussion testing, mending injuries and being out on the field to assist athletes. Most weekdays, she is usually in the training room from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. helping athletes. However, if there are late-night sports games, she will stay until they end to help with injuries and emergencies.

 Besides injured athletes, regulars in the training room include her student helpers,  sophomores Dahlia Murphy and Ava Sadeghi. They often assist Steiding during football games and others. 

At football games, the helpers carry and fill water jugs, mixing Gatorade and occasionally tending to injured athletes. 

“Pretty much anything Caitlin wants, we do,” Murphy said. “If she’s a little busier or she’s helping someone else, we’ll help her whenever she needs.”

Specifically during the football season, Steiding would work with the students by first going through a checklist of supplies for sports games, then delegating different tasks among them and going over who is doing what task when on the field. 

“Being new, I’m still trying to figure out what I’d like to work with the students on,” Steiding said. “I want to start incorporating more [lessons about] injuries and taping with students who want to volunteer.”

Both Murphy and Sadeghi started helping Steiding after learning about it from their friends. Throughout their time with her, the two were able to meet new people, earn volunteer hours and form tighter bonds with the athletes they assisted. 

“I think my favorite part about helping out was the Friday nights,” Murphy said. “It gave me something to do and it was fun when you get to see all the players and talk to everybody. It felt like I was a part of a bigger community, and I can actually help people out.”

Steiding especially enjoys the comfort of having student helpers by her side, as well as taking them under her wing and guiding them through different tasks. She joked about them sometimes driving her “insane,” but having an overall family-like dynamic. She said she is also grateful for P.E. teacher and former trainer Liz Alves for helping her have a smoother transition into the role as well as covering for football games when she was sick.

“My favorite part about working here is just working with everybody,” Steiding said. “I actually enjoyed my time here, and I like being able to take people under my wing.”

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