College Park sports medicine students put skills to the test

Louise Aparicio-Weil.

PLEASANT HILL, CA (May 30, 2024) — Like many student-athletes, Marisa Rabanal, a senior lacrosse player at College Park High School, has suffered her fair share of injuries.

While she could have simply played with her injuries without a second thought, she didn’t because of the resources offered by the Pleasant Hill school’s sports medicine class.

Rabanal has paid multiple visits to an after-school clinic offered by the program. In addition to having her injuries evaluated and treated, she’s also learned the importance of receiving treatment in the first place.

“I probably would have just kept playing on it or rested it and eventually gone back,” she said. “I wouldn’t have taken it seriously.”

An opportunity for students

Rabanal is one of many student-athletes who have attended the clinic, staffed by fellow students and open every day after school. The sports medicine class not only provides a place for athletes to be treated, but is an opportunity for students to study kinesiology, human anatomy and emergency medicine.

Thirty-four students enrolled in the class are required to dedicate time after school to staff the clinic, sports practices and events. This allows them to gain hands-on experience and apply the knowledge they use in class in a practical environment.

Senior Grace Tymo stays after school for the clinic nearly every school day and has taken the lead in becoming the designated sports medicine student for the girls soccer team under the supervision of the class teacher.

For each clinic, she has a list of specific athletes who come in for different reasons. Depending on their needs, she goes through evaluations, performs special tests to identify injuries and starts or continues a rehabilitation program.

The experience gives students like Tymo the push they need to develop their own voices, which can be challenging but equally beneficial for those with a timid personality.

“The more time I put into this, the more I get out of it,” Tymo said. “I feel more at ease with myself and with talking to new people. I have adopted that mindset into my daily life of just trusting myself and applying that confidence into all aspects of my life.”

Medical carreers

Contra Costa County has about 20 high schools with a sports medicine program, estimates Ronald Roberts, who teaches the College Park class.

Taking a sports medicine class also can offer advantages after high school. Sarah Butterfield, a former College Park student, had been planning on going into nursing. It was only after taking the sports medicine class that she discovered other medical careers. Now she plans to pursue a career in physical therapy and is in her first year at UC Berkeley.

“Physical therapy was something I wasn’t really even aware of prior to taking sports medicine,” she said. “And now it’s something that I’ve become genuinely passionate about.”

The College Park program gave her an advantage in some of her college classes, such as Intro to Physiology. With the knowledge and experience gained in high school, she breezed through the coursework while helping classmates when they encountered challenging material.

“You gain so much clinical and rehabilitative experience in the training room, evaluating injuries and developing and administering different plans of care,” she said. “You even get a taste for research as you explore in class how medicine is constantly changing and expanding, and just how intuitive and conceptual a lot of it can be and more.”

Louise Aparicio-Weil is a senior at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill and enrolled in the sports medicine class. This story was originally written for, the website of the Contra Costa Youth Journalism program. To learn more about the program, visit