Published Oct. 5, 2023
BY SARA EYJOLFSDOTTIR
What started off as a courtesy to her neighbor soon became Mya Schnader’s strongest passion and inspired her current career path. The 2023 graduate’s story does not differ from many who pass through the sports medicine program at Carmel High School, choosing to turn their commitment into a potential career with the help of teacher Matt Borek. CHS sports medicine students devote countless hours to gain medical knowledge and real-life experience, with many hoping this will create a career after graduation.
Sports medicine, a fairly unique aspect of CHS course selection, covers the prevention of sports-related injuries, physical rehabilitation, nutrition and so much more. With students able to get hands-on experience treating athletes in their second year of the program, sports medicine allows them to apply their knowledge from the classroom and make real-time decisions on what is best for the athletes. This real-life experience as athletic trainers has sparked passion in many students, leading them to explore a medical path after graduation with their strong foundation in the field.
“I thought I’d just dip my toes into it,” says senior Julia Stenvick, a Sports Medicine III student currently interested in becoming an athletic trainer, “and I ended up falling in love with it. It’s now become who I am, and I spend all my time in the training room.”
The skills gained from years of education and training in sports medicine, its own distinct medical branch revolving around sports, still apply to general medicine in many ways, Borek says. This includes students getting experience taking an effective history of their patients to help determine what injury they have.
“That’s actually one of the hardest things to do: take an appropriate history with good questions,” Borek explains. “They’ll have had almost two years of practice with this.”
Recent CHS grads Simona Matiyevsky and Libby Tejeda, who both reached the third level of the sports medicine program, have been able to use their experience with the class to boost themselves into the medical field.
“It was such a rewarding experience for me because I could see the progress I made,” says Matiyevsky, a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh. “I’d get better at evaluating injuries and feel more confident with picking treatment methods.”
Tejeda, now a pre-med junior at Duke University, spent the majority of her free time in the sports medicine training room during high school, working after school until the late bus left for Big Sur.
“I committed my whole heart into sports medicine,” says Tejeda, who has been able to spend time working sports medicine for Duke’s football team. “But for me, because I loved the work so much, it was not draining. I loved the ability to help my peers and feel like I was making an impact on their health.”
Following in the footsteps of these local sports medicine legends, many current students committed to the program hope to enter the broader medical field using their foundational knowledge and experience treating athletes. Kaitlyn Myrick, a third-year sports medicine student, joined sports medicine on more of a whim, but the class soon transitioned to a strong passion, with her current dream being to become either a physical therapist or an occupational therapist after graduation.
Senior Kendall Profeta joined sports medicine to get familiar with the anatomy of the human body and injuries, preparing her for a nursing major in college.
“At the time I was deciding whether to pursue a career in nursing or education,” says Profeta, currently in Sports Medicine II, “so I thought taking the sports medicine class would help me to make a decision.”
Different medical experts from across the Peninsula come to speak to the Sports Medicine I to aid students with career exploration, including local physical therapy clinic technicians, first responders and the head of the radiology department at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
“As a junior or senior in high school, they gain exposure to different career paths,” says Borek, who encourages his students to find a career they truly love. “The experience and knowledge is powerful and beneficial to their path.”
Sports Medicine II and III students, after undergoing a year of foundational teaching in the classroom, are able to apply their knowledge on CHS athletes after school, which includes taping and icing injuries. Second-year students have a requirement of two hours treating athletes outside of school, while third-years have a five-hour time commitment.
“You get what you put into the class,” says senior Grant Xu, a Sports Medicine III student interested in entering the medical field. “If you want to work more shifts or if you want to see more injuries, you have a bigger commitment.”
Students are able to get at least a passing grade with one shift a week and have their seventh periods open except for one class a week to accommodate for this academic requirement outside of school hours. Passionate students using sports medicine to propel themselves into a future career usually commit more hours, such as Stenvick, who currently works 15-20 hours every week.
“I never felt pushed or forced,” Schnader says. “For me, it was a big commitment because I wanted it to be.”
Schnader worked under the athletic trainer for Monterey Bay Football Club last summer and worked with Borek after the start of school this year. Now off to University of Oregon studying human physiology, Schnader plans on working with one of their sports teams or in the sports science research department, with many current students hoping to follow a similar path.
“I just love helping athletes,” says Stenvick, as she treats the injured shoulder of a student-athlete in the training room. “Watching them get injured and then helping them through their entire recovery process and then watching them in their game again is the most rewarding thing ever.”