FITLIFE at Salt River High School

Tonight, I’m under the lights at Salt River High School (SRHS) on the Pima-Maricopa Indian Community with Head Athletic Trainer Rhianna MacDonald.

John Neel and Rhianna MacDonald at Salt River High School Football Game

This is the 2nd year that FITLIFE Health Systems has provided the school with a licensed Athletic Trainer.  Salt River has athletes from both the High School and Junior High School level that are positively impacted everyday by Rhianna.  SRHS participates in the Canyon Athletic Association and offers 9 high school sports and 5 junior high school sports with well over 100 athletes competing year-round.

A couple of years ago I received a phone call from Barton Anderson, Assistant Professor and Clinical Education Coordinator at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. He asked if I was interested in hiring one of their graduate students to work at a high school near my office and be their clinical preceptor.  Of course, I was interested as FITLIFE has been a clinical education site for A.T. Still students for almost 20 years. Every student that has come through FITLIFE has been excellent and I am continually amazed at the competency, passion for the profession and professionalism they display.  Being associated with a high school athletic program was an excellent opportunity for FITLIFE. So, Bart put me in contact with Salt River High School.

The key person from SRHS is Athletic Director Brandon Tauscher.  Brandon decided that it was time the school and athletes had an AT providing healthcare.  They had never had one before, but he was determined to get it done.  He called A.T. Still and talked with Bart and they began the process of getting someone hired.  A few weeks later I met with Brandon and a few other stake holders from the school to begin developing a relationship.  I toured the campus with Brandon and was impressed by the playing fields, the weight room and the athletic training room.  Last year, 2nd year graduate student Andrew Williams led the way by being the first AT Salt River High School has had. He did an excellent job of laying the groundwork for this year.  A big shout out to Andrew!

Finally, a little bit about the person that I came to visit tonight.  We all are very excited to have Rhianna MacDonald as the Head Athletic Trainer.  Rhianna is a first-year student at A.T. Still University.  This past May she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA with a double major of Athletic Training and Exercise Physiology.  While at Luther she was involved with many clubs, competed on the Track Team and made the Dean’s List 5 out of 6 semesters.  Also, somehow, she managed to study abroad in Ghana!  This fall Rhianna will be working closely with both Head Football Coach Brandon Keith and Team Physician David Carfagno, DO from Scottsdale Sports Medicine Institute.  FITLIFE Health Systems and Salt River High School are fortunate to have such an outstanding Athletic Trainer.

On a side note, you may be interested to know that coach Brandon spent 6 years playing in the NFL with both the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. Also, out of the 25 players on SRHS’s team 6 of them are female. It’s game time – Go Eagles!

See ya next week.

John Neel AT

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