Wendy Alexander/ The Madera Tribune
Madera High School athletic trainer Emily Adler watches student trainer Jacob Elias work on Yvette Zuniga.
For the first time in 20 years, Madera Coyote athletes will have a different set of hands working out sprains, strains and other injury-related issues.
When the winter sports athletes began play in the new year, they also saw a new face on the sideline and in the athletic training room — recent Fresno State graduate Emily Adler.
Adler, who graduated from Fresno State last spring, was hired over the winter break to become Madera High School’s head athletic trainer. She takes over the position held by Melissa Armiento-van Loon for almost 20 years. Armiento-van Loon will still be on campus, overseeing the ROP sports medicine program and also teaching medical classes on campus.
“I feel like I have big shoes to definitely fill, but I’m really excited,” Adler said. “I’m happy Melissa is still going to be around to have someone to go to. That helps me out a lot. I hope I do well and no one says that she’s not Melissa. I hope I fulfill what needs to be fulfilled.”
For Adler, this is her first athletic training job. She spent the fall substituting throughout Fresno Unified School District.
Adler’s main focus is to make sure the athletes are okay.
“Every athletic trainer is different,” she said. “You can’t have the same exact trainer. We all come from the same program, but we all adapt different things. As long as the kids are okay, that’s my concern. I want to make sure they are okay.”
One of the big obstacles Adler had to face was the transition into the classroom with the sports medicine class.
“We are feeling each other out,” she said. “I’m still figuring out how I want things done here. I like the kids and hope they like me.”
Adler says that Armiento-van Loon will still teach the class, but she is available to help with labs. She is contracted through Barrows Physical Therapy.
Adler grew up in Colorado and is an avid Denver sports fan (Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets). She moved to Southern California in the eighth grade and participated in track and field in high school, while also getting interested in athletic training.
“I was part of a program called Medical Health Academy, which is like this ROP class, going to college and majoring in something medical related.” Adler said. “I did that my senior year and interned with a chiropractor and was a student trainer.”
After graduating, Adler attended Fresno State, majoring in athletic training.
“It’s been pretty quick,” she said. “One of my athletic trainer friends in Fresno Unified told me about the job opening here. I talked to Melissa and here I am. Athletic trainer is something that is needed and is slowly being recognized. Schools are getting there because athletic trainers are needed. It’s hard sometimes for kids to get jobs right after they graduate.”
Adler has also been a trainer with the semipro soccer teams Fresno Freeze and Fresno Fuego for three years.
By becoming an athletic trainer for Madera High School, Adler achieved one of her dreams in high school. However, her ultimate dream is to be an athletic trainer for the Broncos.
“I wanted to be an athletic trainer in high school,” she said. “In high school, no one ever really knows their ideas. I originally wanted to do physical therapy, but I interned for one and it wasn’t for me. I wanted something different every day. I love sports and that’s why athletic training really stuck with me. I get to help athletes and have the best seats in the house.”
Adler is hopeful of what the future holds for her at Madera High and hopes to be there a while.
“I feel like I fit really well here,” she said. “I want to help Melissa out as much as I can. For me, I feel as long as I can help someone, that’s what I want to do. I want to feel like I accomplish something every day.”
In whatever spare time Adler can find, she likes to work out, hang out with her boyfriend, who is also an athletic trainer, hike and be active.