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High school athletic trainer does more than tape ankles – much more

Robbie Rauzi is a busy guy. So busy, in fact, that merely reciting an inventory of his average day verges on exhausting. From 6:30 a.m. to well past sundown, the athletic trainer and health sciences teacher at Park City High School (PCHS) is on the go. "I work 12-hour days, sometimes longer," he confesses.

Rauzi teaches seven out of eight periods at PCHS, preps student athletes in the training room after school, and attends the practices and home games for all Title IX athletic teams. This includes football, volleyball, wrestling, baseball, softball, and boys’ and girls’ soccer, basketball and cross-country a full-time, year-round commitment. Rauzi is also the advisor for the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club and concurrently serves as the PTSO committee chair for the high school’s career lunch lecture series.

As if that isn’t enough, Rauzi works part-time in the TOSH clinic in Park City and takes night classes at the University of Phoenix to earn credits toward his master’s degree in education, which he is on schedule to complete next week. Not to mention that he commutes to Park City from Ogden and has an 18-month-old boy at home.

But Rauzi isn’t complaining. "I love giving back to my students and athletes," he says. "It’s amazing to be able to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the past 12 years."

Rauzi teaches five different classes at the high school, four of which are new this year. Last year, nine students were enrolled in his sports medicine class. This year, he teaches a total of 150 students in his courses, which include medical anatomy and physiology, exercise science/sports medicine, health science (intro and advanced) and medical terminology.

Rauzi’s interest in the fields of sports and medicine piqued in high school. "I took the same classes then that I’m teaching now," he explains. He also participated in several team sports, including football, baseball, wrestling, and track and field. Athletic training, which combines knowledge and experience in both sports and medicine, was the clear choice for Rauzi.

In the fall of 1998, Rauzi was one of 15 students accepted to Weber State University’s competitive athletic training program. He says he gained valuable field experience through the 200 hours of clinical training required each semester. After earning his certification as a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Rauzi worked in the field for seven years before accepting a job offer with The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in Park City.

"I was excited to come to Park City because it’s a healthy, active community," Rauzi says. "People here are athletic, and if they suffer an injury, they put forth the effort needed to get better faster."

It’s a common misconception, however, that athletic trainers are the same as personal trainers. Not so, says Rauzi. "We’re medical professionals that work in sports settings," he explains. You won’t find him giving pointers in the weight room. Instead, he prevents, assesses, treats and rehabilitates sports-related injuries. The most common injuries he deals with at the high school are sprained ankles, strained ligaments, dislocated shoulders, strained rotator cuffs and concussions.

In the classroom, Rauzi strives to teach his students things that apply to real-life situations. Since many of his students are athletes, they benefit from a hands-on learning experience. "I use the playing field as a teaching tool," he explains. His sports medicine students are required to complete clinical observation hours alongside Rauzi at various sporting events. They like the fact that they can actually use the things they pick up in the classroom, he says.

As the pioneer of the health sciences career pathway at PCHS, Rauzi has made considerable headway. Before his arrival, Park City was lacking in opportunities for students interested in sports medicine. Rauzi recognized the need and instigated a variety of options for students: six new medical-related courses, a lecture series presented by the HOSA club to highlight role models in the field, and opportunities to explore different medical careers.

"There’s a lot of bright students up here that want to pursue this type of career," Rauzi says. With the expansion of the health sciences career pathway, high schoolers finally have a stepping stone to explore medical vocations.

Rauzi says he plans to continue to build up the health sciences program. "My goal is to inspire future students," he says. He hopes to launch an EMT-type course in the near future and wants to set up concurrent-enrollment courses so that students can get a head start on earning college credits.

Another of Rauzi’s accomplishments at the high school is the creation of the HOSA club, which helps prepare students for careers in the medical field by identifying relevant scholarship and volunteer opportunities. Enrollment in the club has skyrocketed from 10 students last year to 60 this year. Club members recruit specialists from different medical fields to speak at monthly lectures as part of the "Brown Bag Lunch Series." The lectures are open to all students and community members.

Rauzi says he’s comfortable working at the high school, and it shows. He is popular with students both in the classroom and on the field. "I don’t know why they like me," Rauzi laughs. "I guess it’s because I’m real, I don’t hide anything from them, and I’m not easily embarrassed."

Rauzi, who is only 29, has the type of personality that draws people in. "Hands down, he’s one of my favorite teachers," says Zoe Van Gorder, a senior in Rauzi’s exercise science course who plans to pursue a career in kinesiology. "He’s very hands-on, and he brings in lots of outside examples," she says. "He gets everyone in the class involved, and he treats everyone with equal respect." Plus he keeps students and athletes entertained, she adds.

Sounds like the keys to Rauzi’s success are hard work, determination and a good sense of humor.

Check out Robbie Rauzi’s teacher page at http://pchs.pcschools.us/teachers.php?page=222 . For more information on free injury assessments as well as various sports training and rehabilitation programs at TOSH, please call 647-5955.

Vital stats:

Favorite activities: spending time with the family, boating, camping, 4-wheeling, snowboarding, building and design projects

Favorite food: pizza

Favorite place to visit: Island Park, Idaho (outside of Yellowstone National Park)

Favorite music: "Anything and everything"


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