THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Cal Lutheran assistant athletic trainer Samantha Olmon will likely never forget Kyle Fleming.
After Fleming tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last season in soccer, Olmon was responsible for his rehabilitation.
It was the first rehab program from major reconstructive surgery Olmon oversaw at CLU.
She took great pride in Fleming's progress and his return to the field this fall.
"Watching him score his first goal was the coolest feeling. I felt like I actually had a part in getting him back out there," Olmon said. "It was just super rewarding to get to experience something like that."
Those small victories are the reason Olmon, 24, began working as an athletic trainer.
She enjoys helping athletes remain in the game and reach their full potential.
Olmon's father works for Nike, so her family was on the move throughout her childhood. She was born in England and lived in Belgium and Japan before settling in Portland, Ore., at age 16.
"Sports was the only thing I had to fall back on after losing all my friends and making new friends," Olmon said. "I always had sports as a crutch in a way to get me through the hard times. It was something I had to have in my life."
Olmon also developed an interest in the medical field, and decided to combine her two passions by pursuing athletic training.
"It was right down my alley," she said. "I already had so many injuries myself and knew I needed someone like that in my life. It was a perfect fit."
Olmon was drawn to Cal Lutheran for its integrated athletic training program, and she began shadowing head trainer Kecia Davis shortly after arriving on campus in 2006.
She collected more than 1,700 internship hours between her sophomore and senior years and passed her certification exam on her first try.
She began working part time at CLU in 2010 while also working in the emergency room at Los Robles Hospital.
Once a full-time athletic training position opened this year, Olmon was hired.
Davis, Olmon and Cody Owens divide the athletic training responsibilities. They evaluate injuries, help with rehab and staff games and practices for every CLU team.
"I couldn't picture a better environment to work in," Olmon said. "Kecia is almost like the mom and Cody and I are like a brother and sister. We are always there for each other and always have each other's backs because of how many athletes we see on a daily basis."
Olmon's interactions with athletes can go beyond providing ice and electrical stimulation.
"Sometimes I feel like a sports psychologist because there are issues they might be having with their school work or a teammate and coach," she said. "They want to know how to approach it because I am a neutral party. We are everyone's friend in a way."
With only basketball and swimming taking place in the winter season, Olmon is trying to spend time updating CLU's rehabilitation protocol.
"My goal is to kind of make what we have more precise and well-rounded," Olmon said. "We have something in place, but I think it could be stronger and I want to make sure we are documenting everything properly and are more organized."
Olmon's bond with CLU has grown even stronger since she married Cole Olmon.
His grandfather, The Rev. Dr. Luther Olmon, was on the original founding Board of Regents at Cal Lutheran. He died in September at age 92.
"I feel a sense of legacy almost to continue his legacy at CLU," Samantha Olmon said. "I feel like I belong there and my job was my calling. If I can have some small impact on campus, that it would mean so much to me."