The PTO would like to recognize our first Grizzly Nation Standouts of the 2019-2020 school year, and yes, we have two!

Ms. Essence Ephran

(who our students call Doc E)

&

Mr. Todd Matz

(who our students call Doc Matz)

These two Standouts are our schools Athletic Trainers. They work with our student athletes everyday through conditioning and injuries. Not only do they work with our injured athletes they help get them medical services and provide encouragement during times of injury.

We would like to share all about our trainers with you, and if you see them give them a shout out for all their care and support, they give our student athletes. It takes many caring individuals to all work together to make Grizzly Nation strong. Thank you to these standouts who are making a difference in our students lives.

1. Tell us about yourself; family, pets and hobbies.

EE- I grew up in Wharton, Texas a small town about an hour south of Houston. I moved to Houston before middle school and attended George Bush High School where I fell in love with Athletic Training! I attended Texas State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and graduated Magna Cum Laude in May of 2017. My first job was Head Athletic Trainer in Galveston County at La Marque High School under Coach Mike Jackson. I am currently the Assistant Athletic Trainer at Grand Oaks High School and I'm LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT! I am the oldest of 3 children - Ashton, 20 and Madison, 17. I am a mom to a rescue 1 1/2-year-old pup named Draco who keeps me on my toes. I love being near water, traveling, watching quality TV series, cooking and trying new foods! If I wasn't an Athletic Trainer, I would probably be a traveling chef or food critic.

TM- I grew up in a large divorced family. I have 3 sisters and a brother. I grew up outside of Chicago Illinois in a small town called Mokena. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. I moved down here to do an internship in college and fell in love with Texas. I met my wife almost 9 years ago and we have been married for 6 years. My sister-in-law and her two kids also live with us along with our 4 dogs. I like to play golf when I have some free time.

2. How and why did you get interested in Athletic Training?

EE- I was in National Honor's Society in High School and I needed a few more community service hours towards the end of the year. My mom, who worked at the school I attended, suggested that I go the football coaches and see if they needed anything. They were preparing for spring football and needed help organizing the equipment room. After I finished that, I asked if there was anything else and the pointed me to "Doc" Clifford Wray who was our Athletic Trainer. I helped him out during Spring Football, and he invited me back to help with Fall Camp. The rest is history. He was a phenomenal Athletic Trainer. I was in awe of the way he could accurately come up with a diagnosis after a few questions or test and know exactly how to fix what was going on. The biggest reward as an Athletic Trainer is being able to see athletes at what they might say is their lowest point, then seeing them back on the field or court doing what they love.

TM- In high school I played football my freshman and sophomore year. Toward the end of my sophomore year I injured my neck. I worked with a couple of great athletic trainers that I keep in touch with still over 25 years later. Back then I thought this was the greatest job and I still do!

3. Tell us what a typical day is like for you at Grand Oaks and what your job entails on a day to day basis.

EE- I arrive at work at 6:00 am and set up fields for practices. Then I start morning evaluation, treatments and rehabilitation for all athletes. Throughout the day I send updates to coaches, input physicals, make Dr. appointments, prepare rehabs for the afternoon and I also teach Sports Medicine 1st block and 4th period. In the later afternoon we are available for any injuries that might happen during practices or games. Some nights we are not done till after 9:00pm and if there is Varsity Football game even later.

TM- That is very tough, we start anywhere between 6 am and 6:30 am. We could be setting up the fields for practices or preparing for rehabs in the morning. The first period we will be outside for football or teaching our freshman student athletic trainers. From there we work on all our paperwork from rehabs and set up the rehabs coming up that are long term. We have had over 1400 physicals that came in and scanned all of them. 5th and 6th periods we have girls athletics and are running around doing rehabs or more paperwork. 7th and 8th period we can be outside with football or teaching the upper-class student athletic trainers. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays most of the time we leave here about 5, 5:30 pm. On game days it could be anywhere between 8 pm and midnight (traveling with football and other sports playoffs this year).

4. What do you like best about working at Grand Oaks?

EE- The people! Our administration is very understanding and appreciative of the work we do. Our coaches do a great job of communicating, and the kids are polite and hard working. Grand Oaks has such a collaborative atmosphere, and everybody lends a hand to help when they can.

TM- By far the kids and the faculty! Having a new school was a treat but the kids are amazing here. The faculty really want to help the kids and make them the best young adults!

5. What is the best advice you have been given?

EE-"The only way you fail is to have fear. Fear keeps you down, keeps you from learning, keeps you from pushing forward.... Baby girl, failure is not an option." - A voicemail from my grandmother.

TM-Working hard can pave the road way to your dreams.

6. What is the hardest part about your job?

EE- Leaving work at work. It may be my 3rd ACL tear of the season but for that kid it is the worst part of his/her high school career. How I approach treatments and rehabs every day for the next 6-8 months will affect their life beyond high school. Often, I think about if they're doing their home exercises, how their injury or medications affect them completing school work, if they still feel a part of the team and how their injury is affecting their mental health. From there I work to find solutions.

TM- When an athlete is seriously injured and will be spending months with us. To keep them feeling apart of the team while pushing them in rehab is very hard.

7. What type of injury do you see most often and are there any ways to prevent these injuries?

EE-More often than not athletes come in for muscle tightness or soreness. The way to prevent that is stretching before and after workouts and eating well balanced meals and snacks throughout the day! I know it may seem tedious, but it's the most effective way to prevent spasms and to protect your muscles.

TM- Ankle injuries are the most common close behind sprained fingers. Some of the most common ankle injuries we see are freak accidents. But there are some that athletes don't tie their shoes correctly. Shoes will slide under your foot and then get caught on the ground forcing you into an ankle sprain.

8. Who is your favorite sports team, and athlete?

EE-Dallas Cowboys, Houston Rockets and Houston Astros.

My favorite athlete is GOHS kicker, Grant Nickel. Aside from his insane athleticism, he's an awesome person, leader, influence on his peers and is likely to be a hall of fame humanitarian.

TM- I am a Bears fan growing up outside of Chicago. But a very close family friend is an NFL coach. So,we tend to follow his team and cheer them on.

9. Who influenced you the most in high school?

EE-It took a village! My mom, Shannon Rideout, Ronnie Courtney, Sharon Fitzgerald, Larry Senegal, Shirley Rose, and Cecilia Creer; A mix of teachers, coaches and principals that modeled leadership, faith, respect, grit, enthusiastic teaching, work-ethic and accountability. I wouldn't be who or where I am without their support and prayers. Love you guys!

TM-Two people I would say, the athletic trainers that I worked with for a little over two years. They taught me about hard work and long hours. It really set me up for the joy of my job even though we can put a lot of long hours, the smiles on the athletes faces and parents faces are well worth it.

10. Tell us something unique or funny about yourself.

EE-I'm the youngest employee at Grand Oaks High School and I spend way too much money in Target!

TM- Out of the four dogs I own: Rottweiler/Shepard, Shepard/Pug, Pomeranian and Chi-Weenie. The Pomeranian runs my household and puts my whole family in our places. It's always funny to see people's heads turn when I walk down the street with him.

Thank you both for your incredible enthusiasm and knowledge helping our student athletes be successful on and off the field!