Athlete safety
Cabrillo Unified School District administrators say they will continue to find money in the budget for a certified athletic trainer. Review file photo

When Half Moon Bay High School’s Jessica Markbreiter, the beloved certified athletic trainer for the past four years, left the school last week for a position at Sacred Heart Cathedral, the unoccupied position appeared to be in flux.

Due to financial concerns, Cabrillo Unified School District officials were unsure whether the district could continue its funding for the school’s athletic trainer position. Since 2013, the district and the Half Moon Bay Cougar Booster Athletic Corp. shared the cost of the athletic trainer. Faced with the possibility of losing the position altogether, the district decided to commit to the position, and, along with support from Cougar Boosters, is currently searching for a new athletic trainer to monitor its athletes. 

Sean McPhetridge, the district superintendent, spoke with his staff and Boosters President Kris Hammerstrom last week to figure out the logistics. 

“Thanks to the generosity of the Boosters that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, we’re able to hire that person. And we think that’s best practice,” McPhetridge said. 

Prior to the district’s decision, Hammerstrom emphasized the job was critical to the high school, and the Boosters club would look to fund the job itself if necessary. While emergency medical technicians and other professionals could work football games, an athletic trainer provides daily access to high-quality treatment for all sports. 

“We consider the certified athletic trainer component vital and the mission critical to the whole of Half Moon Bay High athletics,” Hammerstrom said.

Hammerstrom estimated Markbreiter, the school’s longest tenured certified trainer since 2011, treated 20 to 30 athletes per day, five days a week. 

Until the position is filled, the Cougars will work with certified firefighters with current EMT credentials, specifically alumni Zach Perry and Jeff Downing. Booster member Angela Bye will help tape prior to Friday games. 

Having a certified trainer has made Cabrillo schools somewhat unusual locally. A San Mateo County grand jury report in early August noted the district was one of three out of six San Mateo County districts to offer an athletic trainer position. The other two are San Mateo Union and Sequoia Union. 


Among many other duties, Markbreiter implemented mandatory software-driven concussion baseline testing for every student-athlete for the past two years. The grand jury report ended with a recommendation that by September 2020, football games and full contact practices should be attended by certified athletic trainers.

“We have 26 sports programs at the high school,” Hammerstrom said. “And the athletic trainer supports every one of those programs as best they can every day of the week.”

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