As of this school year, MC has taken on a new athletic trainer and addition to the MC community, Melissa Fitzgibbon. Fitzgibbon has cared for numerous patients across the U.S., providing her with both the knowledge and experience to fully tend and care for all Sundevil athletes.
Being an athletic trainer has been a dream of hers ever since her past years competing as a high-level gymnast.
“My biggest inspiration was actually my gymnastics coach […] Anytime I was injured, she was a big help with rehabbing,” Fitzgibbon said. “She inspired me to pursue the same career and to keep going.”
Prior to settling down at MC, Fitzgibbon’s undergraduate program led her all over the U.S.
“I’ve been all over the place. I worked at Rancho Bernardo for the 2020-21 school year […] It was one of my clinical rotations for my undergrad degree,” Fitzgibbon said. “Immediately after that, I moved to Pennsylvania for grad school and I was working as a graduate assistant there.”
Fitzgibbon did not immediately start at MC at the beginning of the school year due to another commitment.
“During the summers, I was also working with a minor league baseball team in Utah […] So that’s why I was not here until the end of September. I was finishing out a season with the baseball team,” Fitzgibbon said.
Finally making her way to MC at the beginning of October, Fitzgibbon noticed the way Sundevil athletes treat rehab and has compiled reliable advice to give to injured Sundevils.
“The biggest advice to athletes is to listen to your body and advocate for yourself […] If something’s not feeling right, speak up about it,” Fitzgibbon said. “Sometimes the kids want to ignore it, and you need to explain to them ‘no, it’s better to listen to your body.’”
Having open communication and thorough relationships with athletes is something that Fitzgibbon pushes for here at MC, especially when it comes to treatment.
“Making sure you have an understanding and have open communication with your athletes [is important] so they are honest with you. You can help them through any rehab, that kind of thing,” Fitzgibbon said.
Working with high school athletes has been a great way for Fitzgibbon to show the MC community what she is truly capable of in her line of work.
“I’ve worked with almost every sport imaginable […] I work with skateboarding, BMX, and scooter, and so those sports literally anything can happen,” Fitzgibbon said. “I’ve had kids break their necks […] So it prepares you for anything that you’re going to see in a traditional [high school] setting.
Being able to see a variety of different athletes compete in all types of sports, Fitzgibbon has learned when it comes down to it, all bodies are similar in their treatment.
“I’ve worked with a very large group of athletes from seven years old to professional athletes. And you learn every athlete is the same whether or not they’re a second grader or getting paid for their sport,” Fitzgibbon said. “They’re all treated the same, their bodies all work the same, and you kind of deal with the injuries the same way.”
Being able to relate to the athletes during treatment and creating close-knit relationships is one of the most important aspects of being an athletic trainer. Being closer in age to the high school student-athletes here at MC makes Fitzgibbon’s job easier and more enjoyable.
“I think because the kids noticed that I’m only six years older than the seniors, they can relate to me a little bit more. They are more comfortable opening up about things and are very personable with me,” Fitzgibbon said.
Overall, Melissa Fitzgibbon has taken the transition to become MC’s full-time athletic trainer with grace. She is welcomed by the Sundevil community with open arms.