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Cabrillo High's sports medicine program recently received national certification thanks to the effort of a senior who made it her mission to help her school.

As part of her senior project, Stephanie Rodriguez pursued certification for Cabrillo's program through the National Athletic Trainers' Association, which aims to foster growth of the athletic training profession and support athletic trainers as unique health care providers. 

Rodriguez serves as president of Cabrillo's sports medicine club, where she and other students learn to support student-athletes by treating injuries, guiding stretching exercises and managing pain. 

Her mentor for her senior project — a requirement for all CHS seniors to meet graduation standards — was Mike Tillery, the teacher and head athletic trainer who has helped develop the sports medicine program. 

Rodriguez and Tillery both said that through the National Athletic Trainers' Association, known by the acronym NATA, Cabrillo is eligible to receive additional funds and fundraising assistance for the continued growth of the sports medicine program. 

Tillery made the suggestion to Rodriguez to dive into NATA certification.

“She was looking for a senior project. And I told her, ‘Why don’t you try this?’” Tillery said. “She then did most of the research and checked off all of the boxes.”

There’s a new crop of sports teams from the Lompoc Valley that will compete in the CIF Southern Section soon. And they represent a fast-growing private school on Lompoc’s east side. Lompoc Valley Baptist School announced that CIF has approved eight sports programs for high school competition effective 2019-2020. Three of the sports are offered for both boys and girls on the campus.

Due to her efforts, Cabrillo was certified as a second-team safe sports school. 

“The first team is if the school meets all of the requirements and recommendations,” Rodriguez explained. "The second team, which is what we got, is when we have met most of the recommendations and requirements."

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Through the application, Rodriguez said, she had to demonstrate the school met certain criteria, including safety of the environment and how well everyone was trained in the medical realm. 

“The best part of the project was getting to know Tillery more and spending time helping the school because this will last three years,” Rodriguez said. "This will help us with a bunch of funds and other fundraisers. It’ll help the school in the long run."

She added the hardest parts were ensuring the environment would meet necessary standards, completing the application and getting all the signatures.

Tillery said Rodriguez carried the load in obtaining the certification for Cabrillo.

“She made lots of phone calls and made sure what was in place and what was needed,” Tillery said. “There were a lot of hours. She had to read everything over. She took it and ran with it.”

Tillery added that becoming a second-team member through NATA signifies how far the program has come since its inception nearly 10 years ago. 

“It’s icing on the cake,” Tillery said. “It shows we’re doing the right thing here.”

Rodriguez will present the project later this month to community members. Following her presentation and after accepting her diploma, Rodriguez said she plans to explore the possibility of a career in the medicine field. 

“I’ve been thinking about it [becoming an athletic trainer],” Rodriguez said. "I definitely want to be in the medical field. I’m not sure which career exactly, but for sure somewhere in there.”

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