Prep Sports

Misti Thompson misses her injured Xavier athletes

HS journalism: Athletics trainer stays in touch during isolation

Associated Press
Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS — Dedication is an essential aspect of a successful career, especially for those who put the needs of others first.

Misti Thompson always had a love for sports, growing up playing basketball, volleyball and softball. But it was not until she suffered an injury of her own that she found she wanted to be an athletics trainer.

“After surgery, I was working with my PTA and he was asking the typical ‘what do you want to go to school for,’ which led us to the point that my brothers were always hurt in sports,” said Thompson, now Xavier High School’s athletics trainer. “I loved sports, didn’t want a desk job, wanted something different every day where I could make a difference and he started to talk to me about athletic training.”

After graduating from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training in 2014, she started working at Xavier in May 2015. She has been able to bond with athletes over the years and make connections with her student helpers.

“I love helping kids go from what they feel like is the lowest point, challenging them in things that they didn’t think they could do, succeed and go out and score their first point or win their first game, especially after a big injury,” Thompson said.

Thompson gets to help athletes throughout their whole journey with an injury — the laughs, the tears, the hopes and the dreams. She hears it all.

“Misti is really good at her job because not only does she help you through your physical injuries but she makes sure your mental injuries are good beforehand,” senior Kaiden Cuevas said. “She has been there for me the last three years of my high school career. She’s seen and helped me through all of my knee injuries. The only person who’s been in her room more than me is her.”

With not being able to be at school due to COVID-19, Thompson misses a lot right now.

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“These kids, especially ones who are often in my rooms, become like my kids,” she said. “I see them every day, I hear about their lives, what they’re excited for, nervous for, struggling with, everything and beyond sports even.

“I miss being able to impact their lives and feel like I am making a difference even just by improving pain levels and getting them back to their sport.”

Although she is not able to be with the athletes right now, she is finding ways to check in on them.

“I have been reaching out to injured athletes whether post-op or otherwise to see how they are doing,” Thompson said. “Some athletes I have just updated their home exercise programs while others I have been having video calls with to complete their rehabs to make sure they are at the top of their game for when they are able to return to their sport.”

She also is trying to improve the athletics training system in the area.

“Our company’s (Rock Valley Physical Therapy) athletic trainers have also begun to work on initiatives to better improve care, knowledge and practice,” she said. “I have personally also been looking at how I can improve the sports medicine programs in the area and provide athletic training services to our communities both during COVID-19 and after.”

While spring sports have been canceled, there still is hope that summer sports will be able to modify their seasons. If they do, it will be the first time in Xavier history an athletics trainer will be covering summer sports. Thompson’s contract has not covered summer sports until this year.

She is looking forward to this opportunity.

“Having coverage for baseball and softball is extremely important and there is a lot that could go wrong, so having an on-site medical professional covering them is huge,” Thompson said.

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