When Bridget Mansell left the Athletic department after six years of medical dedication, many athletes feared the athletic training program would never be the same.
However, the appointment of Assistant Athletic Trainer Lonnie Tanenberg and Head Athletic Trainer Natalie Spangler has restored faith among faculty, coaches, and students alike.
Spangler, an Alameda-born Pittsburgh native, came to the position with a packed resume that included graduating from Fresno State University in 2005 and working with Division 1 athletes at University of California Berkeley while studying towards a Masters degree in Sports Psychology.
Fresh out of graduate school and ready to work, Spangler found an advertisement on the National Athletic Trainers Association Web site for head athletic trainer at Mills. After interviews by phone and in-person with the coaches and staff, they believed that Spangler was the one for the job.
“We chose her based on her qualifications, her fit with Mills, and our philosophy in working with Division 3 athletes,” said Themy-Jo Adachi, Director of the Athletic Department. “We thought it would work really well to have her on board.”
Spangler began work with Mills’ Summer Arts program out of a chaotic janitorial closet that was supposed to be a temporary athletic trainer’s room. On Aug. 13, workers finally finished destroying two walls and remodeling. Spangler organized and added the final touches to her space as students set foot on campus for the fall semester.
“At first I was nervous – not about the job, but about being accepted,” said Spangler. “But everybody has made me feel really welcome and it’s not just the athletes. It’s easy to get along with everybody.”
Having an Assistant trainer has also helped to keep the load slightly lighter. Lonnie Tanenberg, who was hired through the same Web site, works part-time with Spangler and boasts a resume that is just as impressive. After graduating from California State Northridge in 2002, he worked as an athletic trainer for the College of Marin, among other jobs, and recently returned from Venezuela where he trained Team USA at the Pan American Games for the Deaf.
Tanenberg, who is hearing impaired himself, has also found Mills welcoming.
“I like working with Mills Athletics because they all want to learn sign language to communicate with me better,” said Tanenberg.
Many students and faculty agree:”I think they’re awesome people,” sophomore volleyball player Alissa Chasten said.
“I like how they describe and make you understand what your injuries are.
“And working with Lonnie has opened my views on communicating with people in different ways.”
While filling previous Head Athletic Trainer Mansell’s shoes seemed to be a daunting task, students agree that Spangler is a breath of fresh air.
Kirin Khan, a junior Crew member, worked with Spangler throughout the summer.
“She’s got her own style and she’s funny and she’s really chill.”
When asked if there were any surprises that have come with the job so far, Spangler could only find one.
“I didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. I like it so much more than I thought I would.”