Editors’ Note: This is a guest article by junior Kate Budinger.

Photo credit to Kate Budinger

M-A’s athletic trainer, Steph Mock, grew up surrounded by sports. Born in San Jose, California, Mock said, “I grew up as an elite soccer player and became an elite basketball player in high school. I also played softball and was an all-American lacrosse goalie. I played basketball and lacrosse in college at Chapman.” 

However, after suffering numerous injuries during her collegiate career, Mock’s mom pushed her to deviate from playing sports and enter sports medicine as an occupation. Mock said, “I played through a lot of injuries, and my mom thought it was only deserving that I go into a field that emphasizes those injuries and the impacts they have on peoples’ lives.” 

Mock’s formal role at M-A is to treat injured athletes. She explained, “I’m an athletic trainer. I am a first-responder, provide first aid, and make sure that students get home safe. I’m an EMT when it comes to emergency situations; I’ve already had to make two 911 calls this year.”

Each Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) school has an athletic contract owned by Stanford. “I work for the Stanford Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Department. Stanford Children’s Hospital owns the contracts for SUSHD,” Mock said. 

However, the District puts a limit on the number of hours its employed athletic trainers can be on-site for. “The District only wants us here for 30 hours a week, so no matter how many sports I have in a week, I have a cap on how long I can be here for,” Mock explained.

On her experience here, Mock said, “I am a very straightforward person.You guys are athletic, but you also need to understand that you need to push yourself farther than you think. A lot of you guys are way too babied.”

Mock described her philosophy as old-school “Unless you’re bleeding or you broke something, you continue to play.” However, Mock also emphasizes the importance of knowing when to keep playing and when to stop. She said, “A lot of times students don’t like me because I pull you out of sports, but it’s my job to make sure you’re okay.” 

Junior and varsity football, basketball, and lacrosse player Jack Kryger said, “She wants to get me healthy, but she also wants me to get back out and play as soon as I can. She doesn’t sit me out for longer than I need.” 

After experiencing an injury during football season, five-star wide receiver Jurrion Dickey saw Mock daily for recovery. “Every day she checks up on me and she also always says ‘hi’ when she sees me around now,” Dickey said.

However, Mock also breaks away from her traditional role as an athletic trainer, making it a priority to connect with athletes on a deeper level. “The amount of stuff I listen to you guys talk about is insane. 90% of it I don’t want to hear, but 100% of it you guys need to get out, because you can’t tell your parents,” says Mock. 

Dickey said, “Steph is a person I can talk to about anything and truly trust her. I have built a true connection with her.” 

Despite being a well respected and talented individual, such success didn’t come without hardship. “I’m small, I’m Asian, and I’m a female. I look young, and I’m also gay. It affects the way in which I have to navigate the world.” She continued, “I have to be the best at what I do or nothing that I do will matter.”

However, Mock didn’t let adversity eclipse her tenacity. “When you succeed, you provide the people underneath you an opportunity, a chance that they wouldn’t have gotten in the world otherwise.”

Mock’s advice to students is to face the world with ambition: “There are many things that are going to come in life that will affect how the world sees you and how you see the world. But at the end of the day, it’s about how much you are willing to give to get to where you want to be and to give others the opportunities to be there as well.”

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