In her daily allotment of 24 hours, Misti Thompson, ATC, LAT, a compassionate, ever-dedicated, always-gracious and caring sort, has a unique and appreciated-by-many knack of finding just the right balance.
Thompson handles the love-filled rigors of being a wife and mother to four (a fifth is on the way), of being a Regional Athletic Training Coordinator for Rock Valley Physical Therapy and the rigors – and there are many – of being the head athletic trainer at Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Xavier Catholic High School.
When the obligatory dust clears, Thompson’s shares in all that comes with bringing-to-life an ever-so-giving military non-profit, “Salute to the Fallen Foundation,” founded by her and her husband, John, a veteran.
“Work-life balance has been something I am still perfecting,” said Thompson, a Cedar Rapids native, who earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in Athletic Training.
At Xavier, Thompson covers all sports, with varsity home contests and their curtain-riser events. She travels postseason with the ultra-successful Xavier football team, has been part of seven straight state tournament trips for the Xavier volleyball team, has experienced great success with boys and girls basketball, soccer, and the school’s baseball and softball team’s runs through postseason play.
Xavier has truly become an extension of Thompson’s family. “It really does take a village when you are looking at the work schedule I hold as well as my husband’s varying schedule, with everything else life throws at you,’’ Thompson said.
Thompson, through her hard work and dedication, has earned the respect and admiration of Xavier administrators, parents, and coaches.
“Misti has become a true Saint. She understands our philosophy of football,’’ said Duane Schulte, the legendary, ultra-successful football coach at Xavier. “She knows it’s a rough, physical sport and distinguishes between an injury and an “owie.’’
“Misti is also smart, intelligent, caring, and fits in with the Xavier culture, not only in football but all the activities she monitors,’’ added Schulte, who has led the Saints to four state championships, four runner-up finishes and four state semi-final showings over his distinguished coaching career. “She has a young, growing family and she balances her responsibilities with that and her duties at Xavier in an amazing fashion. I think, in a way, she looks at Xavier as her second family. Xavier is lucky to have her.’’
Like many in her chosen field, an injury led Thompson on a path to understanding the importance the certified athletic trainer plays in the life of student-athletes and the immense importance of a trained and compassionate physical therapist.
“I did not have an athletic trainer available to me to go to when I first started having problems, which delayed my treatment and management timeline,” Thompson said of her own injury as a high school athlete. “My physical therapy assistant introduced me to the world of athletic training, which gave me the opportunity to fill my desires. I always wanted something that was different day-to-day, wasn’t in an office setting and where I could help people get back to what they enjoy doing. I grew up in and around sports, so I knew I would enjoy the setting.’’
Thompson’s many gifts, her talent, dedication, compassion, and her amazing attention to detail, is also seen and appreciated by her peers.
“Misti wears many hats and works harder than anyone I know,’’ said Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Kaelene Kragenbrink- Voorhees, ATC, LAT, CES, FMS, Regional Coordinator of Athletic Training Services-Quad Cities Region. “She is a devoted mother and has dedicated countless hours to Rock Valley as an athletic trainer at Xavier, as a CPR instructor, philanthropy committee member, regional coordinator of athletic training services, and as a lead of the mentoring and onboarding program within RVPT athletic training. Any task given to Misti is completed almost instantly with so much work and dedication put into it. She does not “half heart” anything.”
“I get to the school around 2-2:30 (p.m.),’’ Thompson says of a ”typical’’ day at Xavier. ”After taking care of my administration /documentation work, I treat athletes that are on senior release. The bulk of the afternoon is spent with practice preparation and rehab of athletes unable to practice.”
“Before I spend dedicated time with them, I check in with coaches and update them on their athletes’ status and when to expect them back,’’ Thompson added. “I check in on practices and reach out to parents, providers and PTs regarding athletes that have been referred out, recently injured or that I am co-treating. I will then either travel and do game prep and coverage or continue with after school treatments until I need to get ready for the games.’’
As filled as her schedule can be, Thompson always finds a way to make time to share all that is the “Salute to the Fallen,’’ a cause near – and dear – to her heart.
The non-profit was founded in 2019 and Misti and John – and many others – have worked tirelessly to bring awareness and financial assistance to multiple military causes including Gold Star Families, veteran suicide, PTSD, homelessness, and much more. Salute to the Fallen’s mission is simply to cultivate a community around its heroes and their families, while providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed and thrive in adapting to civilian life.
“My husband knows first-hand the trials and tribulations that service members go through and the difficulties they have reintegrating after getting out and the mental health struggles with lack of support and resources,’’ Thompson said of John Thompson, who served from 2007-2012. “One thing that we have noticed is there are a lot of civilians and community members that want to help, but don’t know how and a lot of service members and veterans that feel isolated in the community and feel like they lack the camaraderie and family they had when they were in. We want to cultivate a community around our heroes and their families while providing them the tools and resources they need to succeed and thrive in adapting to civilian life.’’
Misti Thompson…Queen of Multitasking… and Amazing on so many fronts.
By: Johnny Marx, Rock Valley Storyteller