May 8, 2016
Arbhie Guce looks out for athletes’ physical and mental well-being.
The athletic trainer for the men’s water polo and volleyball teams is on campus seven days a week. While most students are sleeping in on a Saturday morning, Arbhie Guce, 27, is on the Cal State Long Beach campus, dressed for work and ready for duty.
“If I have to be here for an hour on a weekend to take care of an injury, I’ll do it,” Guce said.
Originally from the Philippines, Guce moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 12 years old. While his family pressured him to pursue a nursing degree, Guce wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea.
It wasn’t until a friend introduced him to athletic training that he grew a fondness for it and ultimately graduated with a B.A. in athletic training from CSULB in 2012.
Guce is currently working on completing a master’s degree in Sports and Injuries and balancing that with his job, but one thing he most certainly isn’t is a personal trainer.
“When I tell [people] I’m an athletic trainer they ask what gym I work at,” Guce said. “They hear ‘athletic training’ and they assume weight loss, personal training at a 24 Hour Fitness, or any other gym.”
Unlike personal training, athletic training requires a bachelor’s degree and successfully passing a board certification exam.
After a career that’s included working at both Millikan and Lakewood high schools and a stint in physical therapy, Guce says he enjoys his current position, despite the low wage.
Guce partially blames the low pay on the fact that California does not currently regulate athletic training, despite the efforts of athletic trainers to establish a licensure process.
“You could take an ‘Introduction to Athletic Training’ class and then go to a high school and say you’re an athletic trainer, and you won’t get in trouble for it,” Guce said. “We don’t have anything that would regulate that.”
The hot topic of concussions makes Guce worried for students who are improperly cared for by uncertified trainers. To make a point of how dangerous this can be, Guce uses the example of a company he knows of that regularly sends non-certified athletic trainers to work at youth camps.
“It’s mishandled by people who are not qualified to be an athletic trainer because they don’t have the proper credentials,” he said.
Aside from this, Guce loves what he does and describes his relationship with his athletes as that of a big brother.
“They’re close to me,” Guce said. “But at the same time if I ask them to do something, they’ll do it.”
For Guce, taking care of his athletes goes beyond the physical aspects of the job.
“Not only do I have to know their injury, I have to know them psychologically,” Guce said. “So, the more they open up to me with their personal life or anything like that, the better off I will get to know my athletes. Stress can cause injuries.”
Overall, Guce likes to have fun with his athletes and maintain a relaxed environment, using methods such as playing music while they work. Hip-hop is a favorite of theirs.
His relationship is just as agreeable with the two head coaches Guce works with on campus, men’s volleyball coach Alan Knipe and men’s water polo coach Gavin Arroyo.
“They give me the freedom to do my job and [don’t] overstep boundaries, and value my opinions,” Guce said, ”I can’t ask for better coaches than what I have now. That’s important. If you don’t have that, it’s going to be a lot of this.”
When Guce isn’t busy with work he’s able to focus on his other passion, horse racing. His family grew up around horse racing, his dad is a jockey, and Guce himself can ride.
“If I [wasn’t] doing anything, I would always be at a racetrack,” he said.
For now Guce is focused on finishing his master’s degree so he can get a full-time job at a Division I university, the highest division in athletics. He hopes to find himself at USC, UCLA or Stanford.