Setting the Bar High at Diamond Bar High
Like many athletic trainers, Chase Paulson became interested in the profession while being treated for a sports injury as a high school athlete. Chase says he “blew out his knee” playing football at Claremont High School in Southern California. “I worked with the school’s athletic trainer every day for about six months, and was able to return to play the next year,” he explains. “I was already interested in anatomy, and athletic training looked like fun and something I could do.”
After high school graduation in 2005, Chase attended California Baptist University (CBU) in Riverside, Ca., starting out with an undeclared major in liberal studies. During a first semester anatomy class, however, he realized he had a passion for the human body and how it works, and changed his major to kinesiology. In his senior year, Chase took an athletic training class taught by Russell “Rusty” Baker, who became an important mentor. “Rusty exposed me to his philosophy about athletic training and life in general,” Chase says. “Toward the end of the semester, he told me that the university was starting a brand new master’s degree program in athletic training, and encouraged me to apply. I was accepted into the program, so after receiving my undergraduate degree in 2009, I continued on at CBU and received my master’s in 2011.” Chase notes that Nicole McDonald, director of CBU’s athletic training education program, is another influential mentor. “She taught the importance of treating the whole person in order for the body to heal,” he says.
After grad school, Chase accepted a position with a physical therapy clinic, working mornings in their clinic and afternoons at a high school. Within a few weeks, he learned that the school had a need for an on-campus substitute teacher. His employer changed his contract, allowing him to teach at the high school during the day, and work with the student athletes after school.
“I learned a lot in that first job,” Chase says, “but the culture wasn’t a good fit for me and I starting looking for another position. I heard about an opening at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Ca., and applied. Their rigorous application process involved numerous tests and interviews and lasted more than five months. I was very pleased to get the job and started in the fall of 2013.”
Diamond Bar High School has an enrollment of 3120, and about a third of the students participate in athletics. Chase is the only ATC on staff, but Diamond Bar is on the clinical rotation schedule for students attending the University of LaVerne, Azusa Pacific University, California State University Fullerton, and Chapman University. Chase is a preceptor for the athletic training programs at these schools, and enjoys working with the students as they gain secondary school experience.
“I’m fortunate to work in a school district that makes student health and safety a real priority,” he says. “For example, I work closely with the school’s full-time health clerk and district nurse. We email one another daily and talk several times a week. If any student athlete is injured after the school day ends, I alert them immediately. If the injury means a student will be absent, the teachers and administrators will know about it when school starts the next day. This high level of communication ensures that the student gets the support they need from everyone at the school.”
Diamond Bar High School has received the NATA’s 2nd Team Safe Sport School Award twice, in 2014 and 2017.
Chase is very involved in the profession outside of work as well. In June 2016, he joined the secondary school committee for the NATA’s Far West District, and became the district’s representative on the national committee as well. He is enthusiastic about the committee’s current focus, the Athletic Training Location and Services (ATLAS) Project. “The ATLAS project is a collaboration of the secondary school committee, several other NATA committees, and the Korey Stringer Institute at UConn,” Chase explains. “The initial goal of the project is to identify the high schools in the U.S. that have an athletic trainer, and those that don’t. Eleven states are completely mapped, and we’d like to have every high school in the country identified and classified before the annual NATA meeting in June. With that information, we’ll work toward ensuring that all high school athletes have the support of an athletic trainer during practice and competition.”
Another priority for Chase is working and lobbying to get legislation regulating athletic trainers passed in California. “This is the only state in the nation that has no licensure requirement or mandated standards of any kind that athletic trainers must adhere to. Without legislation, there’s no assurance that an athletic trainer working in California actually has the necessary education, experience, and credentials. In fact, more than 100 high schools in California have hired people calling themselves athletic trainers who are not properly educated. Also, athletic trainers who lose their licenses in other states due to patient harm may move to California because it’s the one state where they can continue practicing. We want state-mandated regulations and standards that athletic trainers must abide by to protect the public and avoid harm to the patient.”
The California legislature has passed several bills over the past three years that establish regulation over athletic trainers, Chase says. Though both houses unanimously supported the bills, Governor Jerry Brown, an opponent of regulatory laws, vetoed them. “I’ve worked on this since my freshman year of college and I’m not about to give up,” says Chase. “We’re continuing to educate legislators, and more than 40 major organizations have written letters of support including the NCAA, the University of California and California State systems, and the California Interscholastic Federation.”
Chase is hopeful that 2017 will be the year that the legislation passes and is not vetoed. If that happens, it will be one of the highlights of his year—along with his marriage in July. All of us at Cramer wish you and your fiancé the very best, Chase!