Flowing Wells sophomore Bella Martinez knew she wanted to pursue a career in sports medicine but couldn’t decide how to enter the field.
Martinez soon found a way, thanks to the student athletic training program run by the school’s trainer, Caitlin Reiner.
The sophomore said the program, which was established in January by the school and Banner — University Medicine, serves as a great introduction for the school’s students.
“I kind of wanted to be an athletic trainer, so it’s good to get experience before and to kind of see how it is and how she does things,” Martinez said. “So, I know when I go in and stuff for my future, like how to run things.”
Reiner came to Tucson after graduating from Colorado Mesa University when Banner — University Medicine hired her to work in their University Medicine Orthopedics & Sports Medicine program.
Reiner was attracted to the position because of the opportunity to work with the hospital to ensure student-athlete safety.
“I was interested in this position because of the autonomy of the high school and I could still be involved in clinics and with doctors closely and get access to x-rays, get access to MRI charts with the hospital,” Reiner said. “All that kind of stuff really appealed to me.”
The position is unique in Southern Arizona. Flowing Wells is currently the only public school in the county that’s signed a contract with a hospital to provide athletic training to students.
Reiner’s day-to-day routine involves providing concussion assessments, as well as treatment for players. She is also on the side lines come gameday, providing tips on proper stretching techniques to reduce serious injury while providing on the spot care for both the home and visiting team.
Flowing Wells Principal James Bruenkant, who’s in his 15th year as principal at the school, said finding a qualified trainer is a tough task considering Northern Arizona University is the only school in Arizona to offer athletic training programs at the four-year college level.
“We always know we’re going to have an athletic trainer available for our student athletes,” Bruenkant said.
The key to the program’s success, according to Banner Sports Medicine Manager Aaron Walker, is the development of healthy relationships with schools in the region to make sure they have proper medical personnel to protect athletes.
“Our goal is to increase access to care for the student athletes in the school,” said Walker, who acts as a liaison between the school, Reiner and the hospital network.
Reiner’s work extends beyond the school and game day, however. She can access any notes made by Banner’s doctors, continuing the care recommended by hospital and urgent care staff after an injured student is treated.
“If Flowing Wells athletes see a Banner physician, the protocol’s the same, everybody’s on the same page,” Walker said.
Martinez said having Banner employees like Reiner on campus allows her to learn the ropes and pick the trainer’s brain so she can be better positioned for success upon graduation.
Lending a helping hand to students like Martinez is a major perk of the job for Reiner.
“The kids are really the highlight,” she said. “I have really good kids at the high school…The kids are just the best part about it.”
Bruenkant is a big fan of the way that Reiner interacts with students because she’s able to communicate with them in a way that makes everyone comfortable.
Bruenkant praised both Reiner and Banner Health promoting the next generation of athletic trainers, while also providing top-notch care to current student-athletes.
“I’m not a student, but I can tell you from a principal’s point of view and observing, [Reiner] treats the kids like adults,” Bruenkant said. “She has very high expectations. She doesn’t let them get away with stuff…She expects them to act like a professional and she doesn’t put up with anything other than highly professional behavior. And that really sets a good example and also gives kids experience on what it’s going to be like when they do graduate from college and start working in a profession.”