Athletic Trainer Welcomes New Assistant


Junior Matt Ansari (right) treats an injured peer, junior Tamon Okura (left), after school. Photo by Kunal Pandit.

The small, secluded office on the track near the 900 wing is not just any ordinary building. This is the athletic trainer’s office. For all the cramps, bruises, cuts and scrapes school athletes get from shooting hoops to passing the old pigskin around, the athletic trainer’s building is their remedy. But it is not so much the equipment or its important athletic function that is making students interested, it is the talented staff.

The newest addition to the team is athletic trainer Lucas Okuma’s student assistant, junior Matt Ansari, who joined Okuma this year in his quest to help prevent and assist in the healing of all athletics injuries. Matt has helped through a shadowing process similar to that of an intern.

Matt’s keen interest in the sports and medicine aspect of the job gives him the motivation to work with Okuma day in and day out to learn and to help the student athletes.

“I really like medicine, but I also really like sports, so this was the best of both worlds,” Matt said. “My uncle’s uncle was a sports medicine doctor and he said where he started was  high school at his trainer’s office, so I thought it was a good start for me too.”

Shadowing also helps create a more defined career path that will give shadowees, like Matt, a greater opportunity to experience the field of sports medicine, which is a much larger category that encompasses athletic training and many other fields.

“Early on, [I] didn’t decide [on what I was going to do] until my late 20s,” Okuma said. “Lots of kids will go into college kind of undecided, so early exposure to what this job is or what other options you have out there in the health profession [is beneficial].”

He believes that the skills and experiences acquired through the shadowing process that kids like Matt undertake can motivate them to decide on a college career choice. The application from the classroom to the real world is one of Okuma’s favorite parts of his job.

However, the shadowing experience is not just a walk in the park. The rigorous schedule and after-school work that Matt does tests his commitment to the job and how motivated he is to really break into the world of sports medicine.

“[I] come after school, I have a free seventh [period], get the water fixed up, fill up the water with ice, tape the football players that need taping, show people how to foam roll, [but] it really depends on who comes in at what time,” Matt said.

Matt is learning much about training and how to rehabilitate athletes as well as about what he wants to do in the future regarding sports medicine.

“This is athletic training, but I want to go into sports medicine, because I’d rather [the person] that players get referred to when they are [seriously] hurt,” Matt said.

Although athletic training does not encompass all the aspects of the sports medicine profession, it is a good stepping stone to learn the skills that are the foundation for sports medicine. Okuma, who was in a similar shadowing position last year as Matt is today, believes that the shadowing process made him appreciate his job at the school more.

“Being able to do what I was trained to do… and the fact that it is recognized and has become a full-time position, and it’s valued as much as it is at this school is probably my favorite part of the job because it really is a positive stride toward recognition and the importance of the profession itself and I really like that,” Okuma said.

The support Okuma received throughout his college and high school years and through his professional career gives him the ability to help kids like Matt with the shadowing process and teach them the necessary skills that can help make them more proficient at their desired profession. Okuma also believes that the unique opportunity that Matt is taking this year can be more than just a one-off event.  

“In an ideal world, if I could have my way, I would like to teach an injuries class or a taping and bracing class,” Okuma said. “This position is kind of new so we’ll see how things develop. Also, for me to keep my skills sharp is to teach others how to do stuff like this.”

Matt’s new shadowing opportunity serves as an inspiration for other students in the community to follow him whether it be in the athletic training department or any other profession that they are passionate about.

“A lot of other students have seen me do it and said that they want to do it as well [and I encourage them to do so],” Matt said.