Rob Brandon’s first year at Ohlone College in Fremont was a life-changing experience.
As a senior, he was the MVP as a utility player for his Amador Valley High School-Pleasanton baseball team. But he was cut during tryouts as a freshman at Ohlone, which is a member of the Coast Conference.
He was a “B-minus/C-plus” student in high school. But his grade-point average really soared his first year of college. Brandon has a biology 101 instructor to thank for inspiring him and making the class interesting and exciting.
“When I would arrive in the morning, there was a long chalkboard and it would be full of colorful chalk drawings of anything biology,” Brandon recalled. “The guy was really excited to do what he was doing. He really was an excellent teacher. With his inspiration and working hard at academics, I got an A. In sciences, that’s what I had not done. That just inspired me to study and get confident academically and get better grades.
“I got cut from the baseball team, got some good grades, and got the confidence of being able to achieve academically.”
There is someone else that Brandon — one of the owners of Napa Valley Physical Therapy Center and the trainer for the American Canyon High School football program — has to thank.
It’s Carol Brachna, a physical therapist in San Ramon.
It’s Brachna who treated Brandon for an ankle injury that he suffered from playing basketball and then a problem with his lower back when he was younger.
It’s Brachna who also steered Brandon toward the field of athletic training and physical therapy.
“She helped me learn how to move better and keep me moving. She helped me learn how to hold my posture and get stronger and be able to get back and play sports the way I enjoyed,” Brandon said.
When Brandon was 18 and going to Ohlone, he went to work for Brachna as a physical therapist’s aide. He said he enjoyed what he was doing, learning as much as he could and taking in all that was going on around him.
It was Brachna who served as a mentor to him.
• Gaining experience in college
From Ohlone College, Brandon transferred to Cal State Hayward, where he earned a degree in kinesiology/physical education while obtaining additional experience by working in the Pioneers’ athletic training room.
He was a student athletic trainer and served as a senior trainer for football, soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, track and field, softball, swimming and volleyball.
“I knew I still loved sports, so I got to work with the athletes at the school, help them in injury prevention and rehabilitation. I grew that bit of knowledge,” said Brandon, a native of Castro Valley.
He went on to get his masters in physical therapy from USC. He thoroughly enjoyed his time at Southern California.
“It was an excellent experience,” he said. “The level of education at that school is top notch. The instructors were phenomenal. The experiences that they provided for us, learning how to take care of movement-related problems was excellent. The expectations are very high there. That just brings your level of performance up. That helped me to excel. We worked really hard. We had a great group of people. We had a lot of fun.
“That was actually a good point in my life. Looking back, it was a good road that I’ve traveled down. I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn about how people move. I met my wife because I went to USC. Now we have three great kids.”
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Brandon, who is a certified athletic trainer and a registered physical therapist, worked in different outpatient orthopedic practices after completing his master’s program. He was with Novato Back Care and Sports Physical Therapy, Inc., for six years, working as a physical therapist, clinical instructor and clinic supervisor.
He was also the head athletic trainer for Novato High School.
• Napa arrival in 2005
In July 2005, he went to work at Napa Valley Physical Therapy Center. He has joined Bruce McCall and Glenn Hughes as one of the owners of NVPTC, which has facilities on Soscol Avenue and Claremont Way in Napa.
“I’m honored to be able to work with Bruce and Glenn,” said Brandon, 42. “Bruce and Glenn have really worked very hard within the community. I knew when I first met Bruce and Glenn that this was somewhere I wanted to be serious about staying, because I knew the quality that they were providing, the quality care here at both our Soscol and our Claremont clinics. The quality of care is just superior. This is really top notch. I know that Bruce and Glenn have put a lot into this, so I am honored to help continue the traditions that they have instilled in Napa.
“I got to see first of all what they were doing within the high schools and how much they’re involved In the community of being out on the fields, helping with injury prevention and volunteering their time for the community also in the clinic, seeing kids and helping them to recover safely and get back appropriately.”
McCall is the trainer for Vintage High football and Hughes is the Napa High football trainer. Together with Brandon, they are on the sidelines on Friday nights during the fall, assisting those schools and their athletes with treatment for injuries.
They are also taping players before games and seeing anyone who is injured during the week for additional therapy and treatment.
Brandon is part of an athletic training team at American Canyon — which plays in the Solano County Athletic Conference — that includes Jill Stewart and Michelle Davis. The team physician for Wolves’ football is Dr. Phu V. Truong, who is with Kaiser Permanente in Napa.
“I got into this because I really enjoy working with people,” Brandon said. “I enjoy the reward of someone coming in, having a problem that’s related to movement, and helping them be able to move better and keep them moving more efficiently and more comfortably.”
American Canyon, which will be playing its second varsity season of football this fall, has a training room on campus.
Brandon will be starting his third year with the Wolves’ football program in August. He works both home and away games.
“There’s a good team approach there about how to take care of the kids,” he said. “It doesn’t completely fall back on me 100 percent. We all work at it as a team to try and get those kids taken care of. Not having a fulltime athletic trainer on campus makes it such that the community has to get involved in order to take care of the kids. It’s good to have a multitude of people helping.
“I enjoy being involved in athletics and working with kids. It’s nice to work in a clinic and it’s also nice to be outside, to enjoy the Friday night lights. That’s fun.”
Brandon is a great help to ACHS football, head coach Ian MacMillan said.
“When a football player is injured, Rob helps them get back to being able to play,” said MacMillan. “Rob attends all the games and helps keep players healthy and he even comes in on Saturday morning after the games to check on injuries or players that were hurt during the game. He meets with the players and determines if they need to see a doctor or not and gives them a plan to get healthy.
“Right now he is helping Riley Williams and Jeremiah Johnson, who tore their ACLs last season. He is doing a great job helping them get ready for this coming season. We are lucky to have him.”
Brandon is also a certified kinesio taping instructor. He received the USA Kinesio Taping Association Instructor of the Year award in 2004.
“I’m happy to be a part of the Napa community. A lot of great people in this community,” he said.