A major factor in the success of the California Baptist University men’s basketball team this season has been their ability to form a family, and athletic trainer Michele Vasquez has been a welcomed addition to their family.
Vasquez came to CBU in the summer of 1993. She taught kinesiology classes for the first 13 years and now works full time in the athletic training room, where she performs ongoing physical therapy, pre-practice treatments, triage and first aid.
Originally, she said she would only be working at CBU for a couple of years and figured it would be a stepping stone to working for a Division I school or a professional team.
She was the only athletic trainer, eventually adding staff members as the years progressed.
“I only had a couple of training tables and the ice machine,” Vasquez said. “There was no air conditioning in the gym or in the training room.”
In 1997, the athletic training room moved to where it stands today next to the Van Dyne Gymnasium.
“Working with Michele is simply amazing. She is the most selfless person I know. Whenever I need her, whether it is for coverage, rehab ideas or just advice, I can always count on her for anything,” said TaMesha Jefferson, athletic trainer for the CBU women’s volleyball and softball teams.
Jefferson has been working with Vasquez for two years and was a student in the graduate athletic training program at CBU. She said she felt blessed to have Vasquez as a mentor while she was in school.
Vasquez said her favorite part about being an athletic trainer is the relationships formed with the athletes.
“The nature of the job is figuring it out and seeing someone go from injury to going back to play,” Vasquez said. “Injuries are injuries and I think whether you understand the sport or like the sport you somehow build a relationship with those athletes and end up loving it.”
The men’s basketball team is special beyond the fact that they are 23-1 in the season. Vasquez said she has never been a part of a men’s team that is this special and has a family-like mentality that stems from the coaches.
“Sometimes I have been around teams where by this time in the season they either love it or hate it, and it comes from the coaches,” Vasquez said. “Their coaches are very energetic, they bring it and so the players bring it. That is what happens when you treat people well. They respond well.”
The basketball team has made Vasquez a part of their family. They will even hang out in the training room just to talk to her.
“It means a lot having Michele as a trainer. She is such a great person and the whole team loves her. She is a huge part of our basketball family,” said Kevin Crabb, senior communication studies major. “It is awesome having Vasquez as our trainer. She works extremely hard to take care of us if we have any injuries and tries to get us back to 100 percent as soon as possible. She is part of our family. She plays a huge role in our success in keeping everyone as healthy as possible and she is very important to our team.”
When it comes to the men’s basketball team, Vasquez is all in the family.