Zeny, Athletic Trainer for Kamehameha helps athelets do their best
Isn’t funny how a mother’s fear of sports can lead to a lifelong career in sports for her child?
For Zeny Galo Eakins growing up in a small town in San Luis Obispo in California sports wasn’t a priority for her parents.
“There was always a fear of me getting hurt or injured,” Eakins said.
When Eakins wanted to try out for her middle school basketball team she needed to bend the truth to gain her mother’s permission.
“I lied to my mom and told her I was the fifth person trying out for the team and without me they wouldn’t be able to field a team,” Eakins said. “It wasn’t far from the truth; I think I ended up on a roster of 7 or 8.”
It turned out Eakins mom knew the truth all along and Zeny was grateful that she allowed her to try something new.
In high school Eakins played basketball, volleyball and she ran track, doing both hurdle events and running on the relay teams.
“I excelled in volleyball earning league and county recognition my junior and senior years,” Eakins said.
Today Eakins works as a certified athletic trainer at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii.
It’s amazing to me that Eakins mom didn’t want her to participate in sports out of a fear that she might be injured and now her career centers around keeping athletes healthy and safe so that they can participate in sports.
“I think the most difficult part of my job is helping filter through everyone’s emotions,” she said. “Sometimes the kid’s, their parents’ or the coach (es) goals are different from my own.”
Eakins explains the fine line through which she must juggle a balance.
“My only goals are to keep the student healthy and to make sure that they can see some progress in a safe manner,” she said. “However, other factors try to work themselves into the equations, such as a student whom has suffered a season ending injury and wants to get some court time during the last game of his/her high school career.”
As the Athletic Trainer there are multiple external factors that come into play. There are pressures to play because of the expectations by the student/athlete to perform at the next level.
“Any athletic trainer can address an injury but sometimes treating that injury means being a good counselor,” Eakins said. “In my setting it is sometimes difficult to find that time and appropriate place, especially when you can see it’s needed.”
Off the field Eakins has a family of her own and has been married to Tim for 12 years and they have an 11 year old daughter, Amber.
In 1996 her husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a degenerative neurological disorder.
“Tim inspires me and serves as a reminder of how very fortunate I am that I can go for a run,” she said.
And run she has, being a regular at the local community fun runs.
“For the past two years I’ve gotten into running,” she said. “However, I’ve always been around decent runners and I’d have to honestly classify myself as more of a mover.”
2010 proved to be a very challenging year for Eakins and many things seem to be zooming very quickly by her and she soon found herself in a gloomy ‘funk’.
“In April of 2010 my dad passed away and one right after another seemed to be happening,” she said. “I found myself in a funk, a steady mood of melancholy.”
What brought Eakins out of that funk was running.
“In December of 2010 I quietly celebrated what would have been my dad’s birthday,” she said.
A few weeks later Eakins found herself at the New Year’s Resolution 5K in Hilo.
“As with every New Year I had a wish to be a better version of myself,” she said. “The Resolution Run was an inspiration so I checked out the running calendars.”
It was her checking out those race calendars for 2011 that Eakins discovered that the 2011 Honolulu Marathon was on the same day as her father’s birthday.
“I figured what better way to celebrate than with a marathon?” she said. “Thus I began moving and running more. There was a goal, there was a purpose.”
It didn’t happen overnight but once Eakins discovered a purpose she found that she took to running.
“I realized that physically and emotionally I needed that time to myself,” Eakins said. “I was really able to come to terms with my dad’s passing and stresses at home seemed to ease”.
Running gave Eakins the tools to re-center herself, and to get back into a good place.
So race she did, from the Maui Half Marathon in Sept 2011 to the Hilo Half Marathon.
Eakins finished the Honolulu Marathon in Dec 2011 and in the process said Happy Birthday to her dad.
A series of half marathon races has followed which included the Kauai and Honolulu Half’s which has made Eakins a big advocate for doing half marathon.
For the future Eakins goals are to just keep moving.
“As an athletic trainer and being so close to an illness that affects your body, I know that moving sometimes isn’t so simple or easy,” she said. “Sometimes making the decision to move is the hardest part of the workout.”
And someday should you happen to see an early riser moving up Shower Drive remember to smile say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”