Steve Norman, Rick Zappala and Ken Marlborough
Congratulations to Port's athletic trainer, Rick Zappala, for being this year's recipient of the prestigious "Joseph Abraham Award." The National Athletic Trainers Association selects a distinguished and accomplished athletic trainer annually to bestow this honor. This award was created in honor and memory of Joseph Abraham who was a pioneer in the field of athletic training. He was one of the first professionals to recognize the need for quality athletic training programs at the high school level.
Rick was recognized at the board of education meeting on May 1, with a "Certificate of Excellence" and a presentation by Steve Norman from the NAT Association with a plaque.
Rick Zappala, now in his fourth year as the certified athletic trainer at Paul D. Schreiber High School, provides athletic training services to the student athletes of 42 teams at the school. Student-athletes start lining up outside Rick's office by 2:30 p.m. Rick takes care of all their needs from taping weak ankles to stretching and strengthening exercises while listening to their problems and concerns.
Rick came to Port with a wealth of knowledge and experience. He has been an athletic trainer for over 27 years. Before working in Port, Rick was the athletic trainer at Hofstra University and a member of the sports medicine team for the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Rick's accomplishments, recognitions and professional positions in local, state and national associations are too numerous to mention.
Ken Marlborough, director of health, physical education and athletics, had these words, "Rick Zappala has clearly established himself as a leader in the field of athletic training services. He is a dedicated professional who exemplifies the high standards of his profession and that of the Port Washington School District. Upon bestowing the Joseph Abraham Award upon Mr. Zappala, the New York State Athletic Trainers Association is formally recognizing what the student-athletes and coaches have recognized in Mr. Zappala's abilities and dedication over the past four years. The entire program would like to congratulate Mr. Zappala in receiving this prestigious award." From a student's perspective they rate him tops. Student-athletes, Vicki Kasselman and Marissa Fox, who visit Rick frequently as they run track three seasons a year, said in unison, "Rick takes care of everything. He is more than an athletic trainer, he listens and does more than just take care of our injuries, he cares for our souls as well. It's tough physically and mentally to train and compete. Rick gets it, he understands what we go through on a regular basis: school work, practice, training and competing.
In his modest way, Rick gives credit for his success and award recognition to the Port Washington School District. He expressed that due to their commitment to the students and the athletic program they created the position of a full-time trainer on staff, which allows him to expand the services and types of care available to the students. By about 3:30 p.m. the line at Rick's office has dwindled and now it's time for Rick to get in his buggy cart and visit all the teams out on the playing fields. It's reassuring to the students and coaches that he is always close by.