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Trainers assess and prevent injuries for Mills athletes

Often overlooked, athletic trainers are an integral part of any sports program. At Mills College, the athletic trainers assess and provide physical medicine and rehabilitation services to the 150 athletes on campus. Their office is supplied with equipment such as medical tape, an ice bath and wooden exam tables.


It is the athletic trainer’s duty to prevent, treat and rehabilitate Mills athletes’ injuries. Trainers usually deal with injuries such as sore or pulled muscles, but can also assess basic illnesses and viruses. Occasionally, however, a trainer suggests that an athlete see a doctor for more extreme treatments.

The staff stresses the importance of taking care of all muscle groups in order to insure that athletes stay active in their sports.

Head Athletic Trainer Natalie Spangler said, “There are so many reasons why I like my job, but I really like seeing the athletes’ injuries progress and get better with my help.”

During an ultrasound treatment on her leg, Angie Sandoval, a second year senior transfer student on the cross country team, said, “I didn’t let my muscles recover from a hard workout.”

Experiencing pain from her muscles, Sandoval took advantage of the sports medicine office.

“Sometimes there is a wait [to see a trainer], but it’s no more than five to 10 minutes, and most athletes come just for ice and heat,” she said.

An ultrasound treatment provides warmth from electrodes to relax muscles. The blood flow to the injury promotes healing.

“The point of rehab is to get people back to their sport,” Spangler said.

In an effort to keep athletes active in their sports, trainers also use a machine called a Hydrocullator which holds moist heat packs. The packs are used on athletes to treat muscle injuries. After warming the pads in hot water, they are placed in a blanket, and then onto the athlete’s injury.

The Haas facility is also equipped with an ice bath tub, located in the “wet area” of the office. Around it the floor has been tiled and waterproofed. Up to three athletes can squeeze into the oval metal ice bath waist-deep.

Assistant Athletic Trainers Lonnie Tanenberg and Brandon Takafe are also part of the staff for the sports medicine department.

Tanenberg, who is deaf, is currently in China, where he is working as an athletic trainer with the Deaf Olympics. At Mills, he has worked part-time in the afternoons.

Spangler said, “Lonnie understands the athletes by reading lips very well. We have a good relationship from learning how to communicate with each other.”

Takafe is a post-baccalaureate medical student at Mills. “[As a trainer] I get to watch sports while helping with the athletes,” he said.