Made for more victories

January 25, 2021


Athletic trainers Darby and Cole care for Simi Valley’s athletes on and off the field.

When Gabe Landless injured his arm playing football at Royal High School, he thought his athletic career would be sidelined – until Adventist Health Athletic Trainer Darby told him otherwise.

“There’s a psychological component when a student gets injured. They’re sometimes afraid to go back on the field,” Darby said. “But, he learned he could play in a cast and he put in the work.”

Over his senior year, Gabe and Darby bonded. She helped him apply for colleges and trained him through his injury so he could play the game he loved safely. Now he’s enrolled at Moorpark College and playing for their team.

“His mom couldn’t stop thanking me,” Darby said proudly.

injuryDarby is one of two full-time athletic trainers who work for Adventist Health Simi Valley, but spend their days at Royal and Simi Valley high schools working exclusively with student athletes. It’s a partnership formed in 2019 to not only keep our community’s student athletes safe on the field, but also educate them on sports medicine.

The need is great. Darby and fellow Athletic Trainer Cole, see about 700 athletes per school and manage more than 1,000 injuries per season for issues ranging from finger jams to muscle tears.

“With this program, we can immediately treat injuries because the trainers are here on campus,” said Royal High Athletic Director Andy Andreolli.

Just last year, a basketball player at Simi High had a bad landing during a jump shot, tearing her ACL. Cole was there immediately to assist her. He called ahead to the emergency room and ensured there was a bed available, and then worked directly with her physician and care team every step of the way.

After she was discharged, he worked with her for seven months on her rehabilitation, teaching her how to walk again.

“Now she’s going to school back East and is in-training to be an athletic trainer because of her experience in rehab,” Cole said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

Often, the work Darby and Cole perform transcends routine job duties, as they form bonds and connections with students, inspiring them to push themselves to their potential.

“There’s a sense of mentorship,” Cole said. “We often see athletes on good days, and sometimes their worst days. They open up to us and let us into their world.”

Like the time a student came to Cole after a game in tears. He spent hours talking with him through his issues. Cole has even invited students, that couldn’t go home for one reason or another, into his office to do their homework after school.

“We can definitely change lives,” Cole said. “And we know that in the year we’ve been here, we have.”