The double life of Reggie Ronning

April 19, 2013 | 11 a.m.

The tennis captain is both an athlete and an athletic trainer

Sports | Jenny Hudalla

The double life of Reggie Ronning

Photo for The Clarion by Drea Chalmers

With practices, matches and team bonding, senior tennis captain Reggie Ronning has a lot on his plate. And when he’s not busy leading one team, he’s working to heal another.

Aside from his tennis-related responsibilities, Ronning has had the valuable experience of taking on a dual role as an athlete and an athletic trainer, which has buoyed his credibility and ability to relate to players.

“I understand their intensity and passion to compete, because I've been in their shoes,” Ronning said.

For part of his athletic training major, the tennis captain worked with Augsburg’s football team in the fall before moving on to serve Bethel’s hockey team in the winter. He was especially drawn to these two sports because their force and physicality gave him ample opportunities to gain experience.

Ronning’s responsibilities ranged from pregame stretching, taping and treatment to return-to-play protocols, heat-illness management and post-injury rehabilitation. He also dealt with an emergency situation when Royals’ hockey player Garrett Windle was injured in the first series of the season.

It was from this injury that Ronning experienced both the pain and joy of walking an athlete through the rehabilitation process. After being checked from behind, Windle suffered a severe neck sprain and missed four weeks of MIAC play. When he won the MIAC Athlete of the Week Award after returning to the ice, it was a special moment for Ronning.

“I felt like I played a small part in his success and the success of the team,” Ronning said. “When the team wins, I feel victorious, but when the team loses, I feel the loss as well.”

Although he initially considered it his responsibility to keep the athletes healthy and safe, Ronning has since adopted a different mentality that puts his athletes in hands even more competent than his own.

“No matter how prepared or experienced I am, I'll never be able to surpass God in his ability to help my athletes,” Ronning said. “I’ll trust God to protect them and guide me if He chooses to use me.”

More than anything, Ronning values the relationships he has established with his athletes, particularly those he established with Bethel’s hockey players.

“I owe everything to my hockey guys, because they're the source of the joy that we had in the athletic training room this year,” Ronning said. “Having those relationships with my athletes is crucial to gaining trust and vulnerability, which creates an atmosphere where athletes communicate effectively regarding their health status.”

Ronning originally became interested in athletic training after seeing his older brother’s passion for helping athletes. Having been around sports since childhood, Ronning was excited by the prospect of having a career in athletics. Now he plans to pursue a master’s degree in human performance at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and ultimately hopes to work as both a college professor and a certified athletic trainer.

Although athletic training comes with the trial and error necessary to meet the needs of unique athletes, Ronning isn’t deterred by the possibility of failure.

“I believe that God knows our bodies inside and out,” Ronning said. “I will often pray for healing for my athletes as I'm treating them, knowing that God is the ultimate healer, not me.”

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