National Teaching Award Nominee
Arrowhead High School, Hartland, Wisconsin
Student Nomination Story
Roughed up and exhausted from practice again! I limp up to the locker room from the football field. I throw my pads in the stink storm of a locker room then hustle to see Chyla in the trainer’s room. This was an everyday occurrence, because our head athletic trainer, Chyla, wouldn’t let any player leave before getting proper treatment. Everyone had to take care of their body. Chyla wanted to win on Friday night as much as any of us, and she always did her part. Chyla Bechtel is more than a football trainer; she looks over all of the sports programs at our school. Every day at 2:36 pm, the hallway that leads to her room is like the mall on Black Friday. Student-athletes get treatment so they may practice and compete. Chyla chops through the fifty person waiting line; diagnosing, treating, and taping each athlete exceptionally well, while getting them to their respective practices on time. Her ability to conquer this feat is a testament to her incredible skill as an athletic trainer. Again, Chyla Bechtel is more than an athletic trainer. I can say she was a friend to me through a season that had no shortage of conflict. Field side every game, Chyla was there to celebrate our victories or console me for our losses. Notice that I say “our”; she was just as essential to the team as I was. (For context, I was the quarterback). We would arrive back at school around 10 pm, and everyone would make their way to the training room to get ice for the battle wounds. A few of us would stay for an hour talking with her about the game, the strategy, the coaches, the other players, and what we need to accomplish in order to create the winning culture we desire. It was her faith in us that inspired and motivated us to get right back to practice after a tough game. But she doesn’t just say what you want to hear, she says what you need to. She keeps it real and calls it how it is. Aside from her incredible ankle taping ability, Chyla’s directness is her best feature as an athletic trainer. Most trainers I see will let kids sit out of the sport as long as they want. Chyla doesn’t hand out vacations. Chyla wants to win. Chyla won’t let someone practice with a serious injury; she wants to protect them. However, if someone is wimping out of practice with a minor or fake injury she is the first one to push them back onto the field, court, etc. I always laugh when she gives that blank stare to someone as if she’s saying, “why are you taking up my time when I have twenty more kids to evaluate?” With Chyla, there was still plenty of time for lighthearted talks about trivial topics. Typically after a strenuous practice, the same group would hang out in her office. We’d make fun of each other and explore a new topic each day. For example, we spent an hour and a half talking about our biggest fears and shared hatred for bugs and snakes. We’d see which big linebackers think they could wrestle a twelve-foot alligator. There was always a surplus of laughter in the room...even while we cringed over stinky feet that erupted from two linemen in an ice bath. From the start, Chyla tries to connect with her athletes, hence why she has us call her Chyla and not Mrs. Bechtel. It’s not about respect, because us athletes have an endless amount of that for her. It’s about how she shows young athletes that she is someone to trust and open up to. I am one of many who have a well-founded appreciation for her personality and her work. I am forever grateful for the rehab and maintenance she has assisted me through to keep my body in peak condition throughout my high school athletic career. I can’t wait to get back into my last season of sport to revamp my frequent visits to Chyla’s room…and hopefully not for injuries.
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