For more than 40 years, Dr. David Sisler provided free mandatory pre-play physicals to athletes at Petaluma High School. That tradition continued Saturday when several members of the Sonoma State University Department of Nursing performed the service for Casa Grande fall athletes.
“There are always some kids who don’t or can’t get to a doctor,” said Casa Grande football coach Dennis Brunk. “We thought this would be a good way to reach them, and a good project that Casa and Sonoma State could work on together.”
In addition to Casa Grande football and volleyball players, a few players from Petaluma High School took advantage of the free examinations.
The physicals came about because of Brunk’s strong connection to Sonoma State — his wife, Tammy, a SSU assistant professor in the Nursing Program.
“Denis usually hits me up to help with the kids in some way,” she said. “He knows I’m a really strong believer in helping the kids in any way I can. When he came up with this idea, I went to Mary Ellen (Mary Ellen Wilkosz, chair of the SSU Nursing Department), and she immediately said, ‘Yes.’”
Wilkosz didn’t come alone. She brought along her daughter Anne Wilkos who will soon be studying to becoming a physical therapist; Susan Hollander, who works with her in the office of Dr. J.T. Murphy; SSU faculty member Jordan Rose and nursing student Robin Ballino.
“I like to give back to the community, especially to this age group,” Wiklosz said. “I think it is important that all students have access to their physical examinations.”
She said that in the future, she hopes to add more nursing students to the project, so that it works as a training program for the college students as well as a benefit to the high school athletes.
The volunteers showed up early and by 10:30 a line of waiting athletes were ready to have eyes, blood pressure, heart rate and general health evaluated.
“They got a very thorough examination,” said Brunk. “Now we know they are ready to play and what problems we need to look out for.”