Taking a look into the secret life of EHS athletic trainers

Elizabeth+Del+Re+and+Mark+Yorty+are+on-campus+athletic+trainers+at+Emmaus+High+School.+Photo+by+Bethany+Brown.

Elizabeth Del Re and Mark Yorty are on-campus athletic trainers at Emmaus High School. Photo by Bethany Brown.

Eleanor Creelman

Behind every sports team at Emmaus High school is the pair of athletic trainers, Elizabeth “Liz” Del Rae and Mark “Marty” Yorty, serving as an extension of the Lehigh Valley Health Network. 

An athletic trainer works as a combination of a first responder and physical therapist who rehabilitates student athletes who have sustained injuries relating to their sport. They often tape injuries, check for concussions, provide stretches or exercises to alleviate pain, or recommend athletes to a physician. Though their main job lies in the realm of physical therapy, Liz and Marty have taken an active role in engaging and connecting with students in the community. 

Liz attended Newman University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in science, while also minoring in strength and conditioning. Surprisingly, becoming an athletic trainer was not her first career choice. Her initial plan was to complete a seven year physical therapy degree, but she quickly realized that seven years of the same education was not for her. Becoming an athletic trainer requires the completion of a four to five year program and the passing of a board certification. 

After searching for occupations that she could continue on the sports medicine path, she found athletic training. 

“I went to my first clinical rotation and a kid came off and he took his shoulder pad off and his collar bone was sticking up. It was  just about to break through his skin. And I was like, yeah, this is for me,” Liz said. “I think I found athletic training by accident. And I think it found me by accident, but that was how it played out.”

After completing rotations at high schools and Division I colleges like Villanova, she decided training at a high school level best fit her interests. 

Alternatively, Marty grew up playing sports, with a devotion to ice hockey, and wanted to combine his passion for sports with his interest in medicine. He then attended East Stroudsburg University to pursue athletic training.

Marty substituted for other high school athletic trainers during their absence, and then spent a year with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a minor league hockey team. He started working for Emmaus in 2017 as a full-time athletic trainer. 

“They’re not professional athletes, they’re not adults. So it’s fun and rewarding, to help somebody when they need it. And obviously, make a difference in someone’s life. And that whereas when you’re working at a professional level, it’s their job. Like, these are the kids that want to be here.”

When entering their office located past the swimming locker rooms, or talking among students, many people refer to Marty as such– despite his real name being Mark. Roughly a year ago, a photo was published to promote a Freedom vs. Emmaus basketball game that showed all of the team physicians and athletic trainers. In the caption, Mark was misprinted as ‘Marty’ and the name has stuck since. 

I think I found athletic training by accident. And I think it found me by accident, but that was how it played out.”

— Liz Del Rae

During their time working together, the two have become familiar faces to athletes and faculty, frequently checking on students during practice, attending nearly every sporting event, and getting to know the athletes who have not visited their office. 

Athletic Director Rebecca George, in her third year working at EHS, describes Liz and Marty as “the glue that holds the puzzle pieces together,” noting how their differing personalities complement each other to strengthen the athletic department. 

She also appreciates their aid in her transition into her role as athletic director, efficiently communicating with her on COVID policies and keeping in touch on a regular basis 

“They’re fantastic, all the way around,” said George, “which, you know, helps with the transition from the old athletic director to me coming in and taking over this role. They were instrumental in doing that and, being,  helping me be successful through that transition.

 “They communicate really well,” she said. “I can’t say enough great things about them, and they are, you know, you could describe it ‘a hidden gem.’”

Being an athletic trainer has changed amidst the pandemic. Liz and Marty no longer bring ice and water to practices and their responsibilities in preparing fields for practices or games have become limited. Spring sports typically face challenges due to inclement weather, but this year have the added hurdle of COVID restrictions. 

“We just simply go day to day, like it’s not that we try not to plan out too far ahead,” Liz said. “Because on any given day, they can be like, ‘Oh, a school [that is] traveling here isn’t coming anymore, because they’re dealing with issues on their end and vice-versa.’”

The unpredictability of being an athletic trainer takes form in not only scheduling or pandemics, but things that may not be included in the job description. For example– shaving your head. 

Liz recalls being urged to shave her head for the bi-annual Shave for the Brave event during one of her first years at Emmaus and followed through with the encouragement. Following the relocation of the Pediatric Cancer Club advisor, she was offered the position, and after some thought, accepted the role. 

She enjoys heading the club as a way for her to be more involved in the school community and engage with students who may not participate in sports. One of her favorite memories from her time at EHS is the Shave for the Brave event, holding those who shaved their heads and the families they helped close in her heart.
Marty and Liz share a mutual enjoyment in working together and using their contrasting personalities to maintain balance within their office.

“We have different personalities. Obviously. Anyone here would attest to that. But that kind of works, like I’m a little more quiet, a little more reserved, a little bit more laid back,” Marty said. “And she’s kind of a little more fiery, and a little bit more on that side of things. So it’s a good mix. We kind of check each other, and it works well partnering with each other.”