By Ben Buursma

FREMONT–For Fremont High School’s athletic trainer Heather Molnar every working day is a chance to experience the unexpected.

“I love that the dynamics of my job are always changing,” Molnar said. “You never know what’s going to happen. The kids certainly keep it entertaining. Each day, I get to say ’what am I going to deal with today?’”

Athletic trainers are a vital part of sports teams, working behind the scenes to keep athletes healthy. Molnar is employed through Corewell Health, and has more than two decades of experience working with high school athletes, both keeping them in the game and helping to rehabilitate injured players so they can once again enjoy their sports. A 1997 graduate of Grand Haven High School, Molnar had the chance to work with the school’s athletic trainer during her junior and senior years.

“I really enjoyed helping her,” Molnar said. “ It was very rewarding to be part of the training team and I loved the excitement of being at the games and helping to support the athletes and trainer.”

Fremont Athletic Trainer Heather Molnar attending to the needs of an athlete during her time at Wyoming (Photo/Belinda Lazo)

After graduating high school, Molnar enrolled in Muskegon Community College for a year and then went on to earn degrees in Athletic Training and Health Fitness from Central Michigan University in 2002. From there, she went directly into the high school environment as athletic trainer for Muskegon Catholic Central for one year, followed by two years at Orchard View. She spent the next 14 years at Wyoming Park/Wyoming before becoming Fremont’s athletic trainer in 2020.

One of the many things she enjoys about Fremont is the close relationship the school and community have with the local health system, Gerber Memorial. She said the ease of access and communication with the hospital’s doctors is second to none, and makes rehabilitation for athletes easier.

And that’s what it’s all about, according to Molnar.

“Hands down my favorite part of the job is being able to see the kids participating in the sports that they love.”

As for her duties, Molnar spends her afternoons during the school year taping ankles and wrists, going through rehab exercises with injured student-athletes, and then making the rounds to check in on the various team practices.

“I’m in the office for an hour or so at least every afternoon,” Molnar said. “That way the kids know exactly where to find me, because we use a few different sites for athletics. Basketball and volleyball — the gym sports — are the only ones that are actually on campus. Everybody has my phone number, too.”

Photo/ Belinda Lazo

 Game days are frequent in high school athletics, and you can count on Molnar to be at all of Fremont’s home events, as well as away football games and post-season play.

“The daily workload and schedule really depends on the games for an athletic trainer, as game days tend to go later into the evening,” Molnar said. “Since there’s not usually other games on Friday nights in the Fall, I also go to away games for varsity football, and then I try to make any tournament games or matches to keep that consistency for our athletes and also to lessen the burden for the host schools.”

Aside from the actual treatment of athletes, Molnar has weekly meetings with other ATs employed through Corewell, and she also has plenty of paperwork to keep her busy.

“Nobody really thinks or knows about that aspect of the job,” Molnar said about that particularly mundane task. “Any treatment we perform; every supply we use — all that needs to be tracked and entered so we have accurate records of what’s going on with each athlete. I can look up how many ankles I’ve taped over the last year and help give a record of the value we provide.”

Molnar is happy to contribute to that value at Fremont.

“The staff is great; the kids are awesome,” she said. “It’s working out really well.”