At Santa Fe Christian, a remarkable advantage happens when an expert team of Christian coaches mentor young students in athletic fundamentals, teamwork and sportsmanship. That advantage is further supported by an outstanding Athletic Training & Sports Medicine program. Spearheaded by SFC’s Head Athletic Trainer, Kristal Peterson, the program offers an amazing opportunity for 9th-12th graders to become immersed in the field. Peterson launched the program 11 years ago, but it has since evolved into a comprehensive inside- as well as outside-of-classroom experience. Students learn about sports injuries, training, and medicine in the athletic field — challenging and inspiring them along the way.

“I wanted to create a fun, professional learning environment that would benefit the teams, the profession of athletic training, and also offer a mission field,” Peterson says. The program includes the unique opportunity for students to observe orthopedic surgeries first-hand. Two students each week during the fall semester will visit the Carlsbad Surgery Center, scrub in, and observe patients from check-in, throughout their surgery, and then on to recovery. They will attend five-to-seven orthopedic surgeries during their assigned observation day. The following week, after football practice, Peterson and her students meet as a team. They have dinner together, devotions, and team bonding, and those students who observed surgeries the week before will share their experiences with the group.

The program also includes attendance at SFC’s Athletic Training/Sports Medicine one-week camp during the summer where doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, EMTs, paramedics and professors lecture as guest speakers. Students are required to become CPR/AED/First-Aid Certified, work with all sports in the school’s athletic training facility, provide coverage at football games, and assist with school physicals. An added perk is going to SFC’s big games, such as playoffs and state championships.

Peterson’s hope for the program is that her students walk away with Jesus in their hearts while gaining knowledge and life skills to help others. She says, “Not everyone goes into the medical field, but the skills they learn — like showing up on time to their shift, communicating with their team, working in stressful situations, serving others, and working together — are skill sets that will prepare them for the real world.”

The program has been empowering for many young students over the years. SFC junior Kirsten Drake says, “The Athletic Training program has been the highlight of my high school experience so far. I have created amazing relationships with different sports and within my team, as well. I’ve learned so much about injuries, and character-wise about myself, and I can’t wait to experience even more through this program.” Grace-Anne Weinstein, SFC sophomore says, “Being an athletic trainer for SFC has truly opened my eyes to a world of opportunity when I believe in myself and give it up to God.”

Properly trained and well-equipped athletes are prepared for the rigors of competitive sports, but the Athletic Training program affords students a behind-the-scenes perspective, inspiring them to discover new interests, developing and utilizing their talents, while deepening their faith in the process. SFC’s Athletic Training Program is a perfect example of a small school with big opportunities.