Rasmussen earns top training honor
Rancho Cotate grad lands in athletic trainer Hall of Fame
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By Jud Snyder  February 15, 2013 12:00 am


Community newspaper browsers love to read sagas about “hometown girl makes it big,” and the latest example is Janet Wilbert, better known in Rohnert Park as Janet Rasmussen.

She was named to the Tennessee Athletic Trainers Society (TATS) Hall of Fame last month. This is a special honor, for only one athletic trainer in the entire state is picked each year, and Tennessee is no laid back slouch of a state when it comes to athletics, from kids to professional baseball and football stars.

Janet, daughter of Ron and Annie Rasmussen, is the youngest of four children, all raised in their home on Arlen Drive where their parents still live. Joanne, Ray and Rene all have careers of their own. She went to John Reed, Rohnert Park Junior High and Rancho Cotate High (1980 grad) schools and then on up to Santa Rosa Junior College for her AA certificate and earned a degree in Biology at Sonoma State University. At SSU, she also got her teacher’s certificate and membership in the National Athletic Trainers Association.

It was at El Molino High School where she met her husband, Jeff Wilbert. They were both working the sidelines at prep football games as a trainer, and Wilbert was an orthopedic surgeon’s assistant.

They were married in 1994 and saw opportunities in Tennessee for athletic trainers and also post-grad education for themselves.
Janet enrolled at Murray State University in Tennessee and received her Master’s degree and then on to her PhD in adult and higher education at University of Memphis.

It was quite an adjustment for both, from California to Tennessee, but Ron and Annie visited their daughter and husband to keep the home town ties strong. Janet and Jeff have two teenage sons, Jonathan, 17, and Jacob, 14.

In an autobiography she wrote for her Hall of Fame honor, she remembers the days when she was growing up in RP. Anecdotes like her being named Miss Rohnert Park, a dog named Jimbo and a cat called Alex, plus her own pet rat, Sam, that “Mom refused to touch,” watching Mom and Dad playing softball, participating in talent shows and pinochle parties in their home, “lots of fun, for we kids ate all the leftover candy” the next day.

In Tennessee, Janet worked in local hospitals and became active with TATS. She became program director for the athletic training program at the University of Tennessee and also at Vanderbilt Sports Medicine. Another step was three years on the Tennessee Board of Athletic Trainers.

It’s been quite a career for Janet, now 50, and more or less “retired” from her busy days with TATS.

The Hall of Fame honor is a fitting cap to her work in Tennessee. Now, maybe she’ll have more time for visits back to Sonoma County. Her RP home is still the same, except the tiny trees she remembers in her yard are now fully grown.

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