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Interns Millikan

FEATURE: Long Beach Native Vivian Bautista Supports Hometown Athletes as Millikan Athletic Trainer

Prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year, Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) took a significant step in prioritizing the health and well-being of its student-athletes. For the first time, the district’s high schools would have a full-time, certified athletic trainer on campus, in a move aimed to improve the standards of sports safety and injury prevention.

In the dynamic world of athletic training, Vivian Bautista stands out for her expertise and the unexpected path that led her to become the Head Athletic Trainer at Millikan High School. 

Bautista is a Long Beach native and a Jordan Panther alumna. She earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from California State University, Long Beach before earning a master’s in kinesiology from Cal Baptist University.

Bautista’s journey to Millikan was unpredictable, even though she worked a part time gig at Millikan–along with Compton College and Golden West College–back in 2017. But the plan was not to end up on a high school campus; she was set on working at the collegiate level. In fact, she even tried working in college athletics for three years at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

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She worked full time at CSUDH from 2020 to 2023, which included a trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Elite Eight in 2023. But it still just didn’t feel right, and when Millikan opened up a full time position, it was almost a no brainer for her to apply. She explained that working at CSUDH didn’t give her the sense of community she was longing for, due to the amount of traveling that job required. She wanted to be somewhere she was known throughout the campus, at home games with the entire school. 

“When traveling with the team, it’s hard to create a culture where you’re working, where I can make connections with students and build stronger relationships with multiple coaches,” Bautista explained. “But once I came on full time at Millikan, I was able to feel a sense of belonging to the school I worked at as a Ram.”

Bautista’s passion for her work is something she takes very seriously. She always expresses her joy for creating rehabilitation plans for student-athletes so they can prioritize their health and well-being. 

She hopes more people can see the strong importance for her job with student-athletes like LBUSD does for her. 

“I hope that people are able to spread an awareness of the importance of athletic trainers and what we do,” Bautista said. 

In her newly beloved role, Bautista says she is hoping to make an impact on athletes taking care of their bodies because “we only get one.”

Bautista goes above and beyond by spending that extra one-on-one time with athletes. She creates injury recovery and prevention plans catered for each and every athlete that comes in. She hopes that the tools she gives her athletes can be taken home with them, so they can practice good health habits no matter where they go. Keeping athletes healthy is her commitment: not just treating them when they are hurt, but her proactive mindset is what helps Rams athletes stay healthy.

“Vivian has been such an important addition to Millikan’s athletic program,” said Millikan athletic director Kacey Mendoza. “She’s a true team player and the athletes absolutely love her. It’s a breath of fresh air knowing that we have her on our sideline.”

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Spending extra time with athletes has created the relationships and community Bautista was searching for previously, and she has also worked closely with Millikan’s coaches. 

The boys’ soccer head coach, Jeff Schofield, is one coach in particular she has built a strong relationship with.

“His office and mine are right next to each other, so when I was new to Millikan, he was a great help,” explained Bautista.

Bautista respects that the coaches at Millikan, especially Schofield, are so understanding and don’t try to push back on her suggestions for injured athletes.

“Coach Schofield has made me feel welcomed,” she said. “Our relationship is solely based on trust, we both value the player’s health, and he is always supportive in my decision making.”

All in all, Bautista’s decision to shift to the high school level benefited both her and Millikan’s athletes. She is proud to belong to the Ram community where she prioritizes the health of athletes. Bautista has become passionate in her role at Millikan High School, and has adored building connections with athletes and coaches.

This feature story belongs to a multi-part series highlighting LBUSD’s new athletic trainers. The stories are part of an initiative for The562’s student interns, who completed all interviews, writing and photography for this project. Story and all photos by Monique Thomas.

Monique Thomas
Monique Thomas is a senior at Millikan High School in the QUEST pathway. She is a third-year captain of the varsity girls' golf team. She is on the leadership board of Black Student Union and Female Leadership at her school, working as the social media coordinator for both clubs. Monique is also a part if Millikan Photo Club and enjoys her hobby of photography. After high school, she plans to major in Sports Medicine at a four-year college.