“I like to see the athletes at Woodland like they are my kids,” says Ryan Kirby, Woodland’s Athletic Trainer. “I treat them like they’re my own family.”
Many student-athletes at Woodland know who Kirby is and what he does, but many have never stepped foot in his office. And, even more so students who don’t participate in Woodland sports may not even know he exists.
When Kirby was in high school, he played baseball and got seriously hurt during the season. The athletic trainer at his school did not properly help his injury, which started his desire to become an athletic trainer and ensure all athletes get the assistance that they need. He loved being a part of athletics and he knew that he wanted to have a job within the medical field. These events inspired him to attend Springfield College in Massachusetts to become an athletic trainer.
He interned at multiple places including, ESPN Wide World Sports, Yale, Western New England Ice Hockey, and Springfield College, before coming to work at Woodland. Now, Kirby has his own intern this year who helps out after school.
Kirby’s intern, Heather Minue, assists and watches what Kirby does at work to learn what she should do when helping athletes in the future. She even assists some of the students on her own. Interning with Kirby also helps her to learn the high school environment for the future.
Since Kirby himself was once an intern, he knows what it’s like having the roles reversed.
“It’s nice to be able to share knowledge that somebody else passed down to me and to talk to someone about athletic training,” said Kirby, “because last year I would say things to people and they didn’t understand me.”
Kirby joined the Hawks family during the fall of 2018 and has been loved and supported here ever since. Student-athletes, like Julian Feateux, cross country runner, welcomed him with open arms.
“When I ran cross country I had aches and pains in my feet. Kirby helped me deal with the pain and made it go away throughout my season so that I could continue running. Kirby treats all of us as a friend and not as a student; he’s funny, good spirited, and responsible,” said Feauteux, who has gone to Kirby on multiple occasions throughout his sports seasons. “I love going to Kirby for help and feel comfortable when I do.”
These supportive students are very happy that Kirby, even though he had many job choices, made the choice to take the job here at Woodland.
“The people care here, not just about their academics, but just as much their sports too.”
Kirby works at Advanced Physical Therapy from 7am-1pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when he’s not at Woodland. From 2pm until games end Kirby helps all student-athletes evaluate and rehabilitate their sports injuries so that they can get back into playing. Kirby is a big part of the lives of Woodland’s athletes and he has built many close relationships with them. These relationships that he has built made him recollect some of his favourite memories: “The baseball state championship run last year, St. Paul football game last year where we walked off, and seeing everybody graduate.”
Hopefully, this year Woodland’s student-athletes can give him even more memories for him to cherish, but Kirby only wants students to know four things,
“Don’t hold anything back, don’t lie to me (I’ll know), treatment only goes as far as you put into it, and…Go Hawks.”