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The Unexpected Passion of a High School Athletic Trainer

Articles for Athletic Trainers and News StoriesKagan Kaczmar’s journey to becoming Cabrillo High School’s head Athletic Trainer was as unexpected as it was fulfilling.

Kagan Kaczmar ATCOriginally aiming for a career far from the high school setting, Kaczmar found her calling in a role she swore she’d never take, echoing her mother's path as an educator.

“I always swore that I would never work in a high school and be like my mom.”

Yet, the unexpected turn of events led her to a profession where she could not only apply her expertise but also build meaningful relationships with students.

With a background in psychology and a master's in athletic training, Kaczmar’s expertise was a significant addition to Long Beach Unified School District’s initiative to improve sports safety by introducing full-time, certified Athletic Trainers in schools.

Her approach to her role at Cabrillo High has been hands-on and personal. She emphasizing the importance of trust and care in her interactions with student-athletes:

“I fell in love with building a relationship with the kids.”

Kaczmar’s dedication extends beyond emergency care and injury prevention. She’s known for her efforts to be visible and accessible to students, making an effort to be on campus during lunchtimes and providing snacks to students, ensuring they have the fuel they need to succeed.

“I always tried to have bars and snacks on hand.” 

Her workdays are diverse, from preparing Gatorade to managing administrative tasks, reflecting the multifaceted nature of her role.

Yet, it’s the success stories of students returning from injuries that bring her the most joy.

“Nothing brought me more joy than seeing them come back from an injury and celebrating that win with them."

The impact of her work is recognized by colleagues, including Cabrillo boys’ basketball coach Chris Spencer, who appreciates her warm, giving nature and the significant difference she makes in the athletic department. Her choice to bring Hawaiian bread to a school-wide athletic meeting was a gesture that Spencer says is "very indicative of her personality."

Despite an initial reluctance to follow in her mother’s footsteps, Kaczmar has embraced her role, finding deep fulfillment in the connections she’s built and the difference she’s making at Cabrillo High.

Her journey underscores the unexpected paths to finding one’s passion and the impact of dedicated professionals in the educational and athletic communities.

Read the full story from author Allison Nguyen, a senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, in The 562's multi-part series highlighting LBUSD’s new Athletic Trainers