The unsung heroine of Spartan athletics

How a little known trainer cares for athletes


Ethan Wagman

Rozanski looks on as her intern treats an injured Spartan.

Justin Hedrick, Staff reporter

It’s a Monday afternoon in late September, and freshman football is playing Howell North. The players are pushing themselves as hard as they can go. All of a sudden, there is a player down. He’s a Spartan and he cannot move his arm. The game ceases. With coaches calling players to the sidelines for an injury timeout, Anna Rozanski calmly walks across the field.

She knows how to handle virtually any situation that could arise: concussions, broken bones, cramping, dislocation – she can handle it all. The player has broken both the radius and the ulna, both bones between the elbow and wrist, in his right arm. She helps to ease his pain and carefully wraps his arm to prevent further damage as the ambulance arrives. The player is taken to the ER and the game resumes play as she returns to her golf cart parked by the concession stand.

Stressful situations like these are just a part of Rozanski’s everyday routine as the athletic trainer for Francis Howell Central; she has dealt with pretty much every situation imaginable. Rozanski has seen it all and nothing surprises her.  Rozanski spends her nights working games and practices after spending her entire day at Excel sports therapy where her main office is. Instead of going home to her family, she stays with what has become her extended family: Howell Central athletes.

After every football practice, Rozanski stays in her room while dozens of players come in for ice baths, Gatorade, to stretch, or to just hang out. She doesn’t mind the long line of players crowding her small office long after she could have left to go home, she stays there to make sure they take care of all of the needs that she sees not being addressed properly at home.

“She was very kind, she helped me. She gave me exercises to do at home in order to recover from my injury,” Thode said.

Mason Thode, a junior soccer player, is very thankful for the help he received from the experienced trainer.

One of the most important things players and parents need to know about preventing career ending injuries might be rather surprising to some for the simple fact that it is the most easily overlooked solution.

“What you do off the field [in the off season] is just as important as what you do on the field,” said Rozanski. “Proper nutrition, stretching, being conditioned, and proper rest are all important parts of being a good athlete that are often overlooked.”

Sam Davis, a senior and a football player, recalls how nice the environment was when working with Rozanski.

“Anna was always nice and she joked around with all the injured guys,” Davis said, “it is a chill environment with everyone joking around.”

Without the selflessness and quick actions of Anna Rozanski, no Spartans athletics could take place. She also handles the more logistical aspects of sports medicine within the school. She administers the IMPACT test which is a baseline test for concussions, and she deals with tracking the weight gain and loss of athletes in order to observe hydration levels and ensure safety for the players. If a player has not met his or her proper level of hydration, she notifies coaches that the player must sit out of that day’s practice. This has helped to stop concussions from being as widespread and it has helped with the epidemic of cramping across the board in sports.

As a coach, Mr.Mcafee works very closely with Rozanski. He relies on her knowledge and expertise to know when to play certain players and when to rest them. The success or failure of his team can, at times, rely on the decision that the trainer makes.

Coach Mcafee simply exclaimed “She is awesome! Very knowledgeable, helpful, and nice. She’s awesome!”

The latest and possibly the grossest problem for athletes to face is staphylococcus aureus. Staph, as it is more commonly known, is commonly seen as a skin infection caused by dirty equipment and bad hygiene which is known as impetigo. Impetigo is extremely contagious and causes skin to rapidly die and flake off. This makes treating the infection very difficult, as it is extremely contagious and it grows very rapidly. She not only has to treat all of the athletes affected by the outbreak, but she also has to then disinfect her entire room daily to prevent the spread of the infection. She doesn’t let it bother her, though; she takes care of all of her athletes to the best of her ability. She treats them as if they were her own children.

Former football player Russell Adkerson, who had to stop playing football because of a back injury, feels very at home with her still.

“Anna is very nice, I went in there the other day, and even though I’m not playing sports anymore she was very welcoming. We started talking and I asked her about her baby and she showed me pictures. She was always very welcoming, she makes it feel like she is family.”

Often her job is overlooked or even looked down upon by parents and some players. They disagree with her decisions on whether or not the players can resume play. She doesn’t get credited for getting star players back in the game, and she doesn’t get any of the recognition when one of those players does something that wins the game. She selflessly cares for athletes and does her best to insure their recovery is speedy and full. Without her there wouldn’t be any athletics at Central. She single handedly keeps all of the athletes from over a dozen different sports competitive and does it all while receiving almost no recognition.

Joey Mueller and Corey Moats both say that Rozanski takes the time to treat every injury, “Even if it’s just blisters and BandAids,” after one time during tennis practice, Corey asked for a BandAid for a blister he had developed. He felt like it was a “small and laughable request”, but to his surprise he was treated with the exact same priority as someone with a much more serious injury.

No matter the hardships and struggles that come along with her job, every spring Rozanski will be there on the side of the field for girls soccer. Come fall, she will be back under that awning, sitting in her golf cart, waiting for the call. When that happens, she will be sitting by ready for action. Unbeknownst to the parents who walk past, she keeps the whole thing running.