Auty Goebel put her sports medicine education to the test recently when a friend started showing symptoms of a stroke.

“We had just learned about signs and symptoms of different ailments such as the stroke in class, and we were able to get our friend to the hospital,” she said.

Goebel, 17, a senior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, is enrolled in the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) Sports Medicine class. The class is in its sixth year of instruction, with the last five being taught by certified athletic trainer Jennifer Croll.

“I teach the students so they learn something applicable to their lives, not just a career field,” Croll said.

Croll has two classes with around 30 students enrolled in each session. She is hoping to add a second year to the program so her students can advance their skills and knowledge.

“I was brought here because of the need for students wanting to go into this type of career. Before sports medicine, medical careers were not represented in the ROP program,” Croll said.

To be eligible for the class, students have to be in their junior or senior year, at least 16 years old and have completed of two or more years of science. Instruction covers topics such as medical terminology, human anatomy, emergency procedures, soft tissue and bone injuries, symptoms and management of injuries, nutrition, physical fitness and career opportunities.

Students also rotate through on-the-job training experiences with local physicians and are required to have 23 internship hours every four weeks, an average of nearly 6 hours per week.

“I run this class like a college course. I don’t give a lot of homework, but my students shouldn’t expect an easy A. It’s hard work, and I make it challenging,” Croll said.

Students can work with a local physician or assist Croll during sports events to earn their internship hours. If they choose Croll, they attend every home game and stand with Croll and talk about what she looks for during a competition. As the school’s only certified athletic trainer, she goes to every football game, water polo match, soccer game, tennis match and more.

Croll said around half her students are athletes, but they learn many more career options in sports than just playing the game.

“Most of the students who go on into a medical career tell me they have become a nurse. I have several Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and a couple athletic trainers,” Croll said.

Goebel said she wants to become a veterinarian, and took the class to explore options in the medical field.

“I’ve learned a lot and the hands on activities like taping athletes is the best, but I still want to be a vet,” she said.

With a total enrollment of about 1,100, SYVUHS has nearly 1,000 students involved in its Regional Occupational Program. Some students take multiple classes, but the ROP program isn’t open to freshmen. In addition to the sports medicine program, the school offers 16 other classes broken into a total of 40 sections from accounting and finance, to advanced automotive and integrated animal science.

December 14, 2009