Jan 29, 2015
Your Month, Your Stories


March is National Athletic Training Month, and T&C would like to honor those athletic trainers who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of athletes they work with and the communities they serve. From saving lives to inspiring others, we dedicate this month to you and your stories.

Everyone has their own story about how they were drawn to the athletic training profession. Drew Ruckelshaus, LAT, ATC, First Year Graduate Athletic Trainer at the University of Idaho is no different. However Ruckelshaus, who works with the the Vandal women’s basketball team, has a tale few can top.

At eight years old, Ruckelshaus was diagnosed with leukemia. After a year battling the disease, Ruckelshaus met then-Indiana Pacers Head Athletic Trainer David Craig, and a seed was planted.

“People laugh, but that’s how I got into athletic training,” Ruckelshaus told the school’s Web site, govandals.com. “I was sitting at home and in the hospital, and my dad was good friends with the head athletic trainer for the Pacers. He kind of said ‘Hey, Drew needs to come in and see what I do. Give him some inspiration or something.’ So I went into the Pacers’ athletic training room before a game, and literally saw what he did and was like ‘Wow, this is what I want to do.’ “

Doctors put Ruckelshaus on a three-year treatment plan and tabbed his chances of survival at 60-65 percent. The odds weren’t great, but he persevered, often looking to athletics for inspiration.

“The whole thing with meeting the Pacers, I got that motivation from them. That was when they were making that really big run into the playoffs, so I fed off of them. I would go to every game, every playoff game. I’d go to their houses, I’d go to Thanksgiving dinner with them. In the ’96 playoffs, they all shaved their heads because I was bald. Reggie (Miller) started it and a couple others did it. That was pretty cool because when you’re eight years old and you’re bald, you’re getting made fun of.”

In June of 1998, after three and a half grueling years, Ruckelshaus was cancer free. And in the years since, he parlayed his relationship with the Pacers into a career in athletic training.

While in high school from 2003-06, Ruckelshaus worked as an athletic training intern for the Pacers under Craig. He then graduated from Miami (OH) University where he spent time as a student athletic trainer, and last fall he began pursuing a master’s in athletic training at Idaho.

“You do have a new outlook on life,” he said. “My goal is to work harder than the person next to me. I want to be the hardest worker, and pretty much make everyone happy, that is what I try to do. Because once you see people telling you that you might not make it, you want to work that much harder, and I feel like that’s where I got most of my work ethic from.”

Sioux Falls (S.D.) High School Athletic Trainer Rochelle Lauret is a bonafide hero–whether she likes it or not. A few weeks ago, Lauret was covering a basketball game when a referee had a heart attack in the locker room at halftime.

Working in the athletic training room at the time, Lauret heard a commotion, grabbed a nearby Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and went into the locker room where the referee was.

She lowered the ref to the floor and starting checking his pulse, but found nothing.

“I thought the machine will take care of that so I hooked up the machine because it will sense a rhythm,” Lauret told KSFY.com.

The AED did its job and thanks to Lauret’s quick thinking, the referee was revived.

Still, she remained humble. “It wasn’t just me in there,” said Lauret, who teaches classes on how to use AEDs and was recently honored for her service by the Sioux Falls Fire Department. “The machine saved his life. I just know how to hook it up.”

Pasadena Community College (PCC) Athletic Trainer Patty Gallego is what you could call an indispensable staff member. A member of PCC’s Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT), Gallego is part of a corp of campus volunteers trained to recognize and respond to a variety of situations, including those involving bombs and earthquakes.

“I was something that interested me because it’s about campus safety and I like to help out in any way that I can,” Gallego told the PCC Courier. Gallego said she enjoys interacting with individuals she would “otherwise have no contact with and learn their areas of expertise.

“This is my second year [on CERT],” Gallego added. “I love it. It’s super interesting because I get to teach some of my skills but other team members can teach me some of their skills as well.”

Bradley Young a campus police officer at PCC and leader of CERT, is glad to he has Gallego on his team. “[Gallego] has acted as a valuable resource in training,” he said. “Her ability to translate seemingly complex medical emergencies into practical life-saving solutions has been remarkable. [Gallego] is the voice of calm and logic during moments of otherwise chaos and confusion.”

Share your favorite athletic training stories, photos, and videos or tell us about an athletic trainer who has left a positive mark on your career by e-mailing us at: [email protected].

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