Meet Kinsey Gunn, WCHS’ new athletic trainer


Photo by Claire Moylan

Kisney Gunn (right) wraps student Summer Polhemus’ ankle before her varsity lacrosse game on April 20, 2023. This is one of the many responsibilities of Gunn during a sporting event at WCHS.

By Claire Moylan, Staff Writer

On the surface, an athletic trainer is someone who deals with the orthopedic injuries of athletes. However, WCHS’ athletic trainer, Kinsey Gunn takes the job to a whole new level, taking on the expected responsibilities as well as being a role model, friend, and affable presence for all WCHS athletes.

Gunn grew up in Montgomery County and attended Seneca Valley High School. There she played softball and was the manager of the football team. She knew she loved being surrounded by sports but didn’t actually learn about the possibility of athletic training until her senior year.

“It was the first year that MCPS had ever tried to put an athletic trainer in the school environment,” Gunn said. “My first three years I didn’t have anyone in that position so I think it’s fun that it has come full circle and I can be a presence for athletes that I didn’t have in my first few years.”

Gunn attended Marshall University where she planned to enter their athletic training program despite her childhood dreams of attending Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and pursuing a career in fashion design. Gunn decided to go into training because she knew that art would always be a possibility as a hobby.

“Getting further into the athletic world I kind of got away from art but over the past couple of months I have been working on painting a denim jacket that I wore to see Taylor Swift,” Gunn said. “As I was painting, it really just brought back all of those peaceful, therapeutic feelings that used to have so going forward I’m really going to find ways to include more art in my life.”

After finishing the program at Marshall University, Gunn went to Salisbury University where she was a graduate assistant and got her masters in post-secondary education. Here Gunn covered mostly female sports and fell in love with being able to support female athletes.

“I don’t want anyone to ever feel like there isn’t an adult that they can speak to if they feel like they need to,” Gunn said. “I didn’t have that in high school because a lot of my role models were men and especially for a young woman it is always nice to have someone who you can talk to and that’s been one of my favorite parts of this job.”

Female athletes at WCHS have no lack of appreciation for Gunn’s welcoming nature and openness. WCHS sophomore Annika Shauf plays on the JV lacrosse team at WCHS and really appreciates how Gunn makes her feel comfortable coming to her for advice.

“I never played a sport for WCHS until the spring season and so when I was having issues with shin splints during tryouts I decided to go see Kinsey for help,” Shauf said. “I didn’t really know what to expect going to see her but I just went to lunch and she was so nice and easy to talk to.”

After finishing her time at Salisbury University, Gunn spent three years working at Watkins Mill High School. During the pandemic, she was picking up some extra work at a hospital and met Gabby Haubenstricker, the former athletic trainer at WCHS. They became close friends so when Gunn was offered the position of WCHS, she relied on Haubenstricker for advice on whether or not to take the job.

“I was definitely hesitant to accept the position because I knew that Gabby had been here for nine years and made such an impact,” Gunn said. “Fortunately, she encouraged me to take this position so I started here in August and I can say with confidence that this is the happiest I’ve ever been in a work setting.”

Although Gunn loves her work at WCHS, it didn’t come without its challenges and learning curves.

“There were very few athletes and injuries at my old school and it was mostly just shin splints and ankle soreness or muscle strains,” Gunn said. “Here it was an overload of volume and I really had to adjust to the number of students who are serious athletes and the number of serious injuries. I can say with confidence that I had more serious injuries this year than I had all three years at Watkins Mill.”

Having this many serious injuries often takes a toll on Gunn as she finds it really hard to have to tell athletes that their season could potentially be ending due to the injury.

“It’s really tough when there’s nothing that I can do professionally or personally besides just being there,” Gunn said. “I had a couple of athletes this year who were senior athletes and they ended their season. It’s really hard when you feel like you could have made a better diagnosis or offered better advice to prevent the injury.”

Although Gunn has had feelings that she could have given better medical advice, 99 percent of the time Gunn is able to provide exactly what the athlete needs to fix their issues.

“I had no clue how she was going to be able to help with my shin splints but she suggested that I do certain stretches and see her before and after practices for heat and ice treatments and with doing those my pain has gone down significantly,” Shauf said.

Overall, Gunn has loved her time at WCHS and is excited for more years to come. She plans to continue to prioritize her relationships with athletes and continue to make sure that she is keeping all WCHS athletes happy and healthy.

“I just love taking care of people, making connections, and being around athletics,” Gunn said. “I’m so excited to finish out the spring season and come back and do it all over again next year.”