Valencia’s sports medicine students working on an oxygen tank works (Kyle Kawamoto/Canyons News)

Whether it is being on the sidelines or in the classrooms learning, the Valencia Sports Medicine team is one of the top leaders in not just the Santa Clarita Valley, but in the state of California. Their leader, Joe Monteleone, has been guiding his students for over 20 years. As a result, there have been many alumni who have come back to tell new students about the road to success.  He also teaches them that teamwork can do more than just help your teammates.

“The Academy opens up the kids to making them a little more complete working as a team. When they go work, sports medicine is always in a group, problem solving the situation. The team aspect is really important because self-confidence is super important as we go through the process. We’ve gotten students who became nurses, athletic trainers, physical therapists, couple chiropractors, so we have a wide variety of our alumni. There are some alumni who come back and talk to the kids, giving them the confidence.” said Monteleone.

Having to come back from COVID-19’s struggle, that did not stop students from getting back to hands-on learning and having the passion that they had before. Even being behind a computer during that time was a struggle for everyone. To them, this was just another obstacle from achieving their own goal in the very end.

Students Jasmine Avelino (left) and Terra Lee (right) work together to answer quiz questions about the human anatomy. (Kyle Kawamoto/CanyonsNews) 

“We got to bring our own materials, bring your own yoga mat, towels, our own marbles or stones. Like we had to get creative with that because we don’t have all this rehab equipment like as cool as it is in the room,” said Terra Lee. 

The students can use new equipment from the anatomy board to the EMT ambulance setup after coming back to campus for 18 months. The program is growing every year; there are more pathways that are being developed. This is helping students guide them to a profession that fits them. The newest addition to the pathways this year was the topic of mental health. 

Mental health is always the most important subject to anyone from the students to faculty. Behind the scenes, this team works on helping other classmates and giving them a better and healthy mindset when coming to school and that they can help them with their daily lives. 

“We have a club on campus called ‘Bring Change to Mind.’ It’s a branch of HOSA and MSA. Its goal is to destigmatize mental health and wellness on campus and in our community. That’s where I really got involved. It was brand new when I joined and I was like, ‘I want to be part of this because I really, I find mental health super important because it affects your physical health directly.’ Like as students, everyone is stressed,” said Jasmine Avelino.

Students learning with alumni about ultrasound (Kyle Kawamoto/CanyonsNews)

Behind these curtains are students that work very hard for the education and knowledge to be ahead in the medical field. Since not many of the local high schools do not have access to these kinds of equipment, it is very fortunate that these students do. Having the hands-on learning with the alumni gives them the advantage when they must go in for the competitions of medical knowledge.  

Competitions are fun and at the same time can be very stressful. One of the main goals that this sports medicine team strives for is to be the very best. For the first time in 18 months, the students have been eager to attend the HOSA competitions, showing the knowledge that they have learned and applying it to the test. For junior Ariana Panaitidi, this is going to be a no-sweat kind of competition. 

EMT squad practicing the roll of getting a patient into an ambulance (Kyle Kawamoto/Canyons News)

“I’m excited because I actually got a passed on taping so like, I’m allowed to take the athletes and I’m excited to use my skill set in the competition and see how well I can do because I’m super passionate about it and I’m excited to compete and to use my knowledge and skills, put it to the test and see how well I can do,” said Panaitidi.

For all these students, there is a bright future ahead for all of them. With the effort that’s going behind these curtains, there is fire burning in all of their hearts. Within the near future, they will be the ones to come back and teach the new students who were once in their own shoes. 

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