Christian Brothers alum Ms. Jamie Ralph joins Jesuit community as Head Athletic Trainer

Plank Article Henry Krueger ’21

A graduate of Christian Brothers High School, Ms. Jamie Ralph never envisioned working for its rival, Jesuit High School Sacramento.

New to Jesuit for the 2020-2021 school year, Ms. Ralph serves as the Head Athletic Trainer and an instructor for two periods of Intro to Sports Medicine. 

It was unique circumstances that brought her to Jesuit. Ms. Ralph spent two years working at Christian Brothers, but when her alma mater laid off its entire Athletic Training Department because of budgetary issues due to the pandemic, she had to find work elsewhere. 

“I was kind of like ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do,’” Ms. Ralph said. “I looked around and Jesuit happened to be hiring an Athletic Trainer and so I looked into the program, looked into what Mr. Weinberger was trying to set up here with athletics and it was a great fit for me so it worked out really well.”

Ms. Ralph remembers feeling slightly hesitant about Jesuit, but she appreciates the many similarities the two rivals share.

“When I first started looking, I was like ‘Ooh Jesuit, I’m not sure,’ but obviously being a female, I never played [Jesuit] in sports or anything in high school so I feel like it was more just like that generalized ‘oh you guys are our rivals,’” Ms. Ralph said. “But when it comes down to it, it’s a Catholic school environment, we all have the same values so that was more important to me than the school I was at.”

She isn’t the only person in her family to switch rival schools. Her brother Eddie Ralph also came to Jesuit this year and is Junior Varsity Basketball Coach.

Although she’s been involved in athletics for much of her life, Ms. Ralph didn’t discover her passion for sports medicine until her final year of high school when she was involved in Christian Brothers’ Sports Medicine Program.

Her desire to work in sports medicine was confirmed in college as she got a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Chapman University and then a Master’s Degree in Athletic Training from Fresno Pacific University. In a little more than a year from now, Ms. Ralph plans to earn a Doctorate in Athletic Training from A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine through its online program.

“I fell in love with it because it’s kind of that good intersection of being involved in athletics and having that culture of athletics, but still having medicine and science involved with it as well,” Ms. Ralph said. “You’re always helping someone, sometimes during the hard parts of people’s athletic careers, but everything you’re doing is trying to better them as an athlete, make them healthier, make them perform better so I really like that aspect of it.”

But while the primary responsibilities of an athletic trainer are to prevent, diagnose, and treat athletic-related injuries, things have looked slightly different due to the COVID-19 protocols being implemented. 

“Starting in August, typically we’re in cross country, football, water polo, we have all these fall sports going, and I got here and it was just conditioning so that was kind of weird,” Ms. Ralph said. “There was a lot more paperwork than normal, following up with COVID-19 protocols, and that kind of stuff where I had to pivot my job skills to fit what the needs were for COVID-19.”

Another change from the norm for Ms. Ralph was working at an all-boys school after working at co-ed schools for the previous four years.

“I was not really sure what to expect, especially coming from two co-ed schools and then coming to teach at an all-boys school, but everybody’s been welcoming and friendly and just the environment here is really nice to be around,” Ms. Ralph said. 

Coach Jay Nacionales, who serves several roles at Jesuit including sports performance coordinator and safe return task force Co-Chair, has enjoyed his brief time working with Ms. Ralph.

“I feel [like] we work well together, and it is very similar to what you would see at the collegiate or professional level (regarding an Athletic/Sports Performance staff),” Coach Jay said. “I am grateful to work alongside a person who believes in an approach of long-term athletic development. More importantly, we both share similar philosophies of being committed to our student athletes’ overall well-being.” 

Everyone knows Jesuit and Christian Brothers have arguably the biggest rivalry in the Greater Sacramento Area. But it’s people like Ms. Ralph who remind us that when we face challenges such as a pandemic, our focus should not be on rivalries, but on helping others, which is exactly what she’s doing in her first year at Jesuit.