Chapman Alums Return to Form Athletic Training Staff
Football punished Jon Sung’s body. He endured three concussions, tore his groin and rolled his ankle plenty during his final two seasons at Esperanza High School. While rehabilitating from his injuries, he studied the athletic trainers who were helping him, mesmerized by the movements and drills they enacted to help injured athletes and the medical terms they spewed.
This is what they do all day? They help athletes? The football field is their office?
“That’s when I realized, ‘Man, this is pretty cool stuff. I can do this,’” Sung said.
Sung, a 2012 Chapman grad, was hooked. He decided to pursue athletic training after talking with some of the Chapman students who were his athletic trainers. Esperanza High is one of the university’s affiliated clinical sites.
Now, Sung serves as an athletic trainer for Chapman’s varsity teams.
He’s not the only alum on the job. Former Panthers Ashley Raciak and Katy Cohen have also returned to their alma mater to round out the athletic-training staff.
After Chapman, they went off and did different things. “Now we’re all coming back together,” Cohen said.
“It’s just us bringing all of our knowledge and utilizing everything we know to make sure that the student-athletes have the best experience,” Cohen said.
While undergraduates, Sung, Cohen and Raciak tested their skills in high-pressure environments. The major requires students to complete several clinical rotations.
Sung worked with players on the Esperanza football team as well as Chapman football and softball. He also worked an internship with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
Cohen worked with USA Volleyball, Chapman baseball, Servite High School in Anaheim and Northwood High School in Irvine.
Raciak worked with Chapman men’s soccer and lacrosse, as well as Cypress College and Northwood High.
Each fell in love with the profession and honed their skills with hands-on experience, working one-on-one with athletes.
“I love the fact that I can influence an athlete’s life in a positive aspect, watch them move from their lowest point to their highest point,” Cohen said.
They spent hours helping athletes rehab through injuries, some through devastating season-ending injuries. During those times, the trio got to know their athletes off the field.
“You really do get to know the person personally, their rough times, their good times,” Cohen said. “You become a confidant. They rely on you to push them.”
After graduation, each practiced their craft at different universities.
Raciak, who graduated in 2008, received her master’s in higher education at the University of Redlands, where she worked with the women’s volleyball, basketball and lacrosse teams. She then spent a year as an assistant athletic trainer for Division I University of San Diego.
Sung and Cohen traveled out of state. Sung received his master’s at the Division I University of Florida, where he sometimes worked 80 hours a week as an athletic trainer with the football and men’s golf teams
“Everybody was there to win,” Sung said. “You’re always going. You never stop, there’s no days off.”
After stints at Vanguard University and UC Irvine, Cohen traveled to Kansas State University to receive her master’s in kinesiology. Along with Kansas State’s football team, she worked with the women’s rowing team.
Now that the trio has returned to Chapman, they can appreciate how much they’ve grown as athletic trainers.
“I was just kind of skeptical that I wasn’t going to be able to do this. Now with all the experience that I have and all the colleagues that I’ve been able to work with, I’m much more confident,” Raciak said.
Each worked under Chapman’s head athletic trainer Pam Gibbons in some capacity as undergraduates. No longer students, they’re colleagues with their former teachers.
“It’s really crazy to see everyone that was a mentor to you, all of a sudden, you’re their peer,” Sung said. “They formed us. They made us into what we are today.”
Courtesy of Mirin Fader, Staff Writer, Orange County Register
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