Meghan Llamas – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – It’s a Friday night. The LRHS stadium lights flicker on as the sun disappears behind the bleachers. Students stomp their feet and cheer as an announcer calls for the LRHS Mustangs.
Athletic trainer Sydney Suppa lines up alongside her aides, holding out her hand as she awaits the team. The football team runs out onto the field, arms in the air as music blasts through the speakers. Excitement pulses through the air as the athletic trainers’ high-five the players and find their positions.
Suppa isn’t there to just cheer the football team, however. She is the LRHS athletic trainer, one of the first people on the field when an athlete gets hurt. Whether it’s wrapping ankles or tending torn ACLs, Suppa is there to help the injured athletes.
It is Suppa’s third year at the Ranch, but not her first year assisting athletes. She has her bachelors degree from University of South Florida (USF) and masters from University of Southern California (USC).
Suppa’s said she loves the environment at LRHS.
“The students and the coaches and the family dynamics of the athletes; just how everyone supports each other,” she said.
While she loves being an athletic trainer, Suppa points out how many people underestimate how much knowledge goes into being an athletic training and how important it truly is.
“The knowledge base is a lot more than what people think they see. As athletic trainers we do a lot more than wrapping ankles, we always have to know the ‘what if.’ What if an athlete hit their head at this angle and height rather than this one and what type of treatment we should do that would be the most effective for their injury,” shared Suppa.
Suppa said the most rewarding part of being an athletic trainer is being able to help an athlete through rehabilitation and watching them get back into the game. However, she said that she finds the hardest part is having to say no to people, “With 1,000 student athletes I can’t help everyone who is injured.” she grimaced.
Being an athletic trainer can get hard sometimes, and tending to more than 17 teams a year can be particularly challenging.
Fortunately, Suppa is joined by 10 athletic trainer aides, students here at the Ranch that help lighten her workload. One such student is senior Lauren McGill, who has been helping out since her freshman year.
McGill is not only looking for the experience for her future, but enjoys going to games.
“My favorite part is the experiences you get. It’s really cool being under the lights, feeling apart of the team. Because then you’re not only a part of the football team you’re next to the cheerleaders, you’re next to the band and get to see it up close,” said McGill.