Analyzing problems, applying creativity and finding solutions are all daily tasks of an engineer or an athletic trainer. Brad McReynolds sees himself as both, just do not refer to him simply as a trainer.
“I like to help a kid play even though there might be a slight hurt,” McReynolds said. “I’m asking what’s wrong, he tells me what hurts and I’m creating something to fix it. This is me being an engineer.”
Saddleback College head athletic trainer Brad McReynolds was named CCCATA athletic trainer of the year for junior colleges and small schools for 2016. (Matthew Kirkland/ Lariat)
It is his unique perspective on a job that so many others do that allows him to be such a successful athletic trainer and the California Community College Athletic Trainer Association Athletic Trainer of the Year for junior colleges and small schools in 2016.
While the award is very much appreciated, McReynolds does not do it for the accolades or the recognition, he does it because he loves it.
“Where can you work for 30 years and enjoy it the whole time,” McReynolds said. “You work outdoors, you watch athletics, you deal with 18-20 year olds, which can be good or bad but this is a great profession.”
McReynolds has been athletic training for a long time. He was originally certified in 1982 and has been the head athletic trainer at Saddleback College since 1988. He held the same position at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California and at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Californian prior to joining the Gauchos.
“I’ve worked many community colleges,” McReynolds said. “I’ve worked here like I said 28 years and I’m from Northern California so I’ve worked at a couple community colleges up there and did a little bit of an internship with 49ers when they were in the Sacramento area.”
McReynolds’ work experience goes beyond community colleges. As an intern while still attending California State University Sacramento, he was able to work with the San Fransisco 49ers over one summer and regularly worked the Bruce Jenner International and USA Mobil Track and Field Championships in the bay area as well.
He was also able to work with the Oakland Invaders, of the United States Football League during their championship run season in 1985.
“You probably don’t even know what the USFL is,” McReynolds said. “I’ve worked that and finished a season for like three or four months and the world championship game was that year.”
McReynolds is just being modest. The USFL was a major competing league with the National Football League for a period of time during the ‘80s and had its share of talented players including Jim Kelly, Anthony Carter and the “Cajun Cannon” Bobby Hebert.
Along with his two stints as an athletic trainer for football teams, McReynolds also worked the World Police and Fireman Games and was the head athletic trainer for the professional baseball team the Mission Viejo Vigilantes.
“You know what, they were all favorite experiences,” McReynolds said. “Would I want to work in the NFL for 30 years? No. When I did the USFL I was young and single and we worked and played. When I worked for the 49ers I was right out of college and still working on my masters. I’m not going to say one was better than the other because they are all good.”
Although the fit of an athletic trainer suits McReynolds well, the career path he chose was not always so clear to him. He was still unsure about his major and career choice when he transferred to Sacramento State to play football.
“I played football in college and wrestled so I was an athlete,” McReynolds said. “I went up to Yuba College in Northern California and we had no athletic trainer, but I was playing football and they were taping ankles having students and therapist come in.”
Any career in athletics interested McReynolds but he did not know exactly what his calling was. He knew he loved helping people and loved sports but struggled to come up with a job for his future.
“I created this job in my head and I didn’t know what it was,” McReynolds said. “Because I didn’t know what an athletic trainer was. I asked myself how can I work with athletes and take of them and I had no idea.”
At his first practice at Sacramento State, the football team was introduced to the university’s athletic trainer and everything seemed to click for McReynolds. The job we created in his mind already existed and he knew that was want he wanted to do.
McReynolds received his bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from Sacramento State in adaptive physical education in 1981. He went on to get certified as an athletic trainer and continue his education by earning a master’s degree from Asuza Pacific University in 1990.
While being the head athletic trainer at Saddleback is time-consuming, he still finds time to teach at the college, work with senior citizens and develop the Athletic Training Network which is a first choice reference point for athletic trainers in Orange County, California.
“I do [everything] because I love the job,” McReynolds said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time, I know lots of people, and I appreciate it, putting in a lot of work and doing lots of good things. I wouldn’t change a thing.”