PCHS athletic trainer Robbie Rauzi essential to Miner athletics
A few years ago, Robbie Rauzi fielded a phone call from a parent. An athlete on the Park City High School girls’ soccer team had severely sprained her ankle and needed Rauzi’s help. So at around 10 p.m. he performed a special taping procedure to help compress the sprain and reduce the swelling. Rauzi, who was living in Ogden at the time, finished up and then took the two-hour car ride home on a school night back to his young family.
"He probably shortened her injury time by three weeks. It was a really bad sprain," said Park City girls’ soccer coach Chip Cook. "Robbie was able to get her back on the field and playing in time for the playoffs."
Rauzi, now in his sixth year as the head athletic trainer at Park City High School, is arguably one of the most important people on the sidelines. He sees things others don’t, knows things most people don’t, and provides the necessary care when an injury should happen.
"We have the best trainer out of any high school I have ever seen," said Park City head football coach Kai Smalley. "I’ve never seen a guy like that."
Rauzi grew up as an athlete at 5A Fremont High School near Ogden, participating in football, baseball, wrestling and track & field. He went to nearby Weber State University where he received his sports medicine degree. As a freshman, he became a prominent athletic trainer on the Wildcats’ football team and traveled with the squad to every game for four years. Those spots are usually reserved for upperclassmen, but as evidenced during his time at Park City, Rauzi is one of the best in the business.
After his time at Weber State, he interned with the Los Angeles Dodgers and did some work with Layton Christian Academy before being hired by the Park City Medical Center as an athletic trainer.
When he’s not roaming the sidelines at any number of certified high school athletic events, Rauzi is teaching three different classes at Park City High School. There’s anatomy and a sports medicine class as well as an EMT class, which he said is unique among all high schools in the state. Partnering with the Park City Fire District, Rauzi’s EMT class is the only one in the state offered during hours in a high school classroom setting.
He also has students from his sports medicine class shadowing him and some of his co-workers at various Miner sporting events. It’s his way of giving back and promoting the field which he fell in love with at such a young age.
"It’s one of the increasing fields," he said. "A lot of us, we have that athletic experience and we want to do something medical and help, and this is a great career to be involved with sports. Sometimes people ask me what I do and I tell them, ‘I get paid to watch football games.’
"I had a lot of unique and special opportunities which allowed me to become the athletic trainer I am today."
The person he is today is a dedicated one. He spends hours upon hours each week after school at practices or games in the event a student-athlete should get injured. When he’s not teaching, grading papers, helping out interns or bagging ice, he’s a dad. He and his wife have three children and now live in Heber. Two of his children have cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
"It’s a little crazy," he said, laughing. "My wife and I were both athletes and she’s very supportive. She knows what it was like as life as an athlete. She comes to the games as much as she can. (The job) does take a lot of time, but me being here allows for her to be at home with the kids."
To Smalley, who has two young children of his own, Rauzi is an inspiration.
"He’s probably the best dad I’ve ever seen," he said. "He does everything for them, he’s there for them all the time, and then he puts his heart and soul into working for us. I’ll be honest, it almost brings me to tears when I think about what he does for his family."
If there was an appropriate term, it might be "Superdad."
"It’s unbelievable how much time he puts into it," said Park City boys’ basketball head coach Caleb Fine. "He’s obviously a great trainer, but there’s a lot of great trainers — the thing that makes Robbie different is he puts in a lot of time.
"He’s an asset and he’s someone who deserves a lot of props for someone who gives so much of his life up in order to help others."
But that’s what Rauzi loves to do. When play stops and there’s an injury to any player, his brain begins to diagram what happened and what necessary steps need to be taken.
"You start running out there and your mind starts to think, ‘OK, what did he do?’" he explained. "You’re surveying the scene, making sure you have what you need and that you’re covered that way, but you never know for sure what you might encounter. We practice and practice and practice these skills, so when you are in that situation, it can become like clockwork. There’s definitely a routine, but there’s also times when you get stumped."
Rauzi also considers himself lucky. During his time at Park City, he has yet to encounter a serious head or neck injury.
"The worst for me are the ones that are more catastrophic," he said. "Things that I don’t have X-ray vision on. I can tell if the leg is broken, but I can’t tell if the neck is broken."
In the last two years, both Wasatch High School and South Summit High School have had to deal with catastrophe as a student-athlete at each school has been paralyzed in practice or in the field of play.
"All we can do is try and maintain life, keep airways open and taking the proper steps to move forward," Rauzi said. "I’ve been fortunate so far."
A calming influence
His name doesn’t end up in the record books for wins or losses, but Rauzi’s place at Park City is an essential one. He has established bonds with various coaches and players and can be a voice of reason when the passions of sport take over.
"My personality type is, if you can go, you go," Fine said. "He’s a calming influence and keeps us a little sane. If Robbie says they can play, then they can play. If Robbie says they can’t play, they’re not going to play. I don’t think all the coaches in this state have that. I have that."
"He’s such an integral part of our team," Cook added. "He always keeps track of the clock for us. He definitely is much more than an athletic trainer to all the teams, kids and coaches."
However, Rauzi, who some say is the nicest person they’ve encountered, is not afraid to lower the hammer when necessary.
"The biggest thing is that he holds the players accountable," Smalley said. "It’s a tough job. And you have to worry about the liability, the ‘Do I hold this kid out? Do I take the chance that he’s going to play?’ He’ll walk right up to our kids and lay into them about practice, and he knows what he’s talking about. It’s about having somebody like that who has my back, whether it’s football or being a trainer — it’s everything."
Keeping a watchful eye
"We’re here for injuries, but also to prevent injuries," Rauzi said. "The sooner I can get an athlete on ice or wrapped up, the sooner they’re going to get back on the field.
"If you build a rapport with the coaches, parents and athletes, they usually trust you. You have to build that trust. I feel like I’m good at what I do. I’m not the best by any means, but I try."
On Friday night, freshman lineman Hawken Knight suffered a lower leg injury in the first quarter against visiting Snow Canyon. Throughout the game, Rauzi worked with Knight and kept a watchful eye on him. When the start of the fourth quarter rolled around, Knight had put his pads back on and was insisting Park City assistant coach John Moritz put him back in.
"Robbie, tell him I can go back in!" Knight pleaded.
Rauzi looked at Moritz, gave a calm nod and Knight erupted before strapping on his helmet and entering the game.
"I love stuff like that," he said shrugging his shoulders.
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