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Oct 15, 2023

Perfect path: Certified Athletic Trainer Blake Anderson in the right spot doing what he loves.

His mother showed him how to compassionately dedicate one’s professional life to the health and well-being of others. His father shared a love of sports, the benefits of competition and the rewards for giving it one’s all on the field.

It was, for Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Blake Anderson, ATC/LAT, the perfect precursor to his professional path, leading the dedicated certified athletic trainer to where he stands today, as the head athletic trainer for Rockridge (Taylor Ridge, Ill.) High School.

“I grew up with my mother, a nurse, entrenched in the medical field,’’ said Anderson, who joined Rock Valley Physical Therapy in 2019, and took over the athletic training duties at Rockridge in early 2021, just after the state of Illinois lifted its Covid-19 mandate and granted prep sports “return-to-play’’ status.  “My mother acclimated me to the medical side and my father – a sports junkie – helped cultivate my love of sports and competition,’’ added Anderson, who after a stellar prep career at Burlington (Iowa) High School, played college baseball at Dubuque, Iowa-based Loras College. It was also at Loras where Anderson honed his athletic training skills, working with a plethora of the college’s athletic teams, including football and men’s basketball.

“I found a way with what I do to combine the love and passion of both.’’

As a certified athletic trainer, especially at the high school level, no day is ever the same, especially when dedicating one’s self to multiple sports. For Anderson, who also finds time weekly to assist one of Rock Valley’s physician liaisons, his day is devoted to bettering the lives of the athletes in his care.

Anderson covers football, volleyball and postseason cross country in the fall, boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball and wrestling in the winter, and baseball, softball and track and field in the spring for the Rockets. “There is a variety of prep work when I get to the school and then there is the rush of athletes before practice. Then there’s practice, post-practice or games, treatment, care for the athlete and communication with coaches and parents. Sure it can get busy, but it’s a good busy.’’

Anderson’s deep dedication, his ability to relate to all involved and his expertise is not lost on his peers. “Blake is the best. He is truly a team player. He is always the first to step up and help any of our region’s athletic trainers’’ said Kaelene Kragenbrink- Voorhees ATC, LAT, CES, FMS, Regional Coordinator of Athletic Training Services. “The kids and families at Rockridge adore him,’’ Kragenbrink-Voorhees added. “Rockridge is a tight-knit community and Blake fits right in.’’

Anderson lauds the students, coaches, parents and Rockridge administration, noting they are amazing to work with. He also never steps into a coach’s world of decision-making and the coaches, parents and administrators respect his every decision regarding the well-being of the athletes in his care.

“Everyone has been great,’’ said Anderson, who has been part of multiple playoff runs for football and basketball with the Rockets and part of the school’s three straight Class 2A state softball championships, including a record for the most consecutive games won by any program in Illinois. “The coaches are appreciative of what I do and trust my judgment,’’ he added. “Our principal (Kate Hasson), our athletic director (Daphne Graves), the athletes and parents have all been supportive. It’s been a fun run. I have really enjoyed the playoffs (football) and the postseason runs in boys’ basketball and the championships in softball. The athletes have all been great.’’

The future, uncertain on most fronts in our world, is steady with Anderson and Rockridge. He loves his chosen career path and those around him are grateful he does what he does and has had such an incredible impact on those in his care.

“Blake is always there when we need him,’’ Graves said. “We are extremely fortunate to have him on our side.’’ Hasson, the school’s longtime principal and an All-American basketball player at Augustana College during her playing days, has a firm grasp on the importance of having a certified athletic trainer looking after Rockridge student-athletes. “Blake is a wonderful asset to our athletic program,” she said while singing his praises.

Bake Anderson is grateful to be part of the Rockridge family and Rockridge is beyond happy to have Blake Anderson.

A perfect match.

By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller