When life as an athlete throws you a curveball, you have two options: take the strike, or hit it out of the park.
The latter tactic was chosen by Mai Gomez, a former Big Spring High School softball and volleyball player who suffered a series of ankle injuries which put her sports career on the sidelines, but opened up a new, potential career.
Gomez, a senior this year at BSHS, signed her letter of intent Thursday to attend Howard College on a full scholarship, majoring in what she knows best — sports medicine.
A student trainer for the past three years under the tutelage of Jim Campbell, BSHS' head athletic trainer, Gomez has worked closely with the varsity track and football squads.
Her previous injuries, Gomez said, served as the catalyst for her becoming a student trainer.
“I had two ankle sprains,and I saw what (Campbell) did, and became interested,” she said. “I decided to make it my focus instead of athletics. Then, after doing it, I really wanted to make it my career.”
Campbell, who has served as a mentor for Gomez, believes the choice to attend HC is a good fit.
“I think (Gomez's) injuries kind of piqued her interest,” he said. “Through the rehabilitation process, things just connected. She became a trainer, and was a tremendous help in track and football.”
Gomez said she thrived on the new challenge, and made learning the techniques of on-the-spot first aid her priority.
“In track, proper stretching is important,” she explained. “In football, it is knowing how to use the proper procedures if anything happens. Once, a football player broke his neck. We had to know what to do — how to handle it, how to stay calm.”
John Overton, Athletic Trainer for HC, is excited for Gomez as she prepares to graduate and enroll at the local junior college.
“Howard College will give her a great opportunity to advance, get a degree, and change her life,” he said. “I take (Campbell's) recommendations, and he says (Gomez) has done a good job working for him.”
Gomez ultimately plans to go beyond Big Spring.
“I want to eventually go to Texas Tech University, and get my Doctorate in Sports Medicine,” she added.
Gomez's dream job? To work with her favorite pro sports team — the Dallas Cowboys.