SRU graduate applies training to helping others

sabrina anderson hurdles

Sabrina Anderson, a Slippery Rock University student-athlete, has spent her summer working alongside former Pittsburgh Steeler offensive lineman Jon Kolb as part of a 480-hour internship at Specialty Orthopaedics in Hermitage.

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August 19, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Whether it was in the classroom or on the field, Sabrina Anderson has always been on the "fast track."

Last May, after just three years at Slippery Rock University, she graduated with an exercise science degree and a minor in business administration. She completed an incredible 140 total credit hours in those three years and graduated early with a 3.90 cumulative GPA. She has already been admitted to, and is taking classes in, the Master's of Business Administration program at SRU, putting her on course to earn both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in just four years.

sabrina anderson

   ANDERSON

While her academic achievements are commendable in their own right, what's really remarkable is that she accomplished them while competing as a student-athlete at SRU. Not just any athlete by the way, but one of the most successful in the school's history. During her career at SRU, Anderson earned numerous Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honors, including being named the 2015-16 PSAC Pete Nevins Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year; the PSAC Field Athlete of the Year after both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2015-16; and she won the PSAC title in the heptathlon and earned All-Region honors in both the heptathlon and the high jump outdoors. Anderson closed her junior season on the track by earning All-America honors with a 10th place finish in the heptathlon at the NCAA Division II National Championships.

Her speed and dedication has left comrades and competitors - and even former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, Jon Kolb - speechless.

Anderson first crossed paths with Kolb when she began volunteering at Specialty Orthopaedics in Hermitage last year. Their "partnership" has continued this summer as Anderson has been fulfilling a 480-hour internship at the facility.

Kolb, a member of the Steelers from 1969-1981, made history as a four-time Super Bowl champion. As a retiree, he has continued working as a strength and conditioning coach for sports teams and medical facilities like Specialty Orthopaedics, where is he intent upon improving the quality of life for people undergoing crippling disabilities.

Kolb's efforts at Specialty Orthopaedics led to a new program at the facility dubbed "Jon Kolb's Adventures in Training with a Purpose and Professional Habilitation Services." The program expands beyond providing just physical care to also assisting clients' meet financial and other challenges.

Anderson and Kolb, who are joined by three other SRU student interns, are attempting to bring hope - both physically and emotionally - to patients suffering chronic illnesses. The team works with patients who often undergo motor limitations.

The work is labor intensive, but Anderson's athletic training - she is also a nationally ranked weightlifter and competes throughout the year in weightlifting competitions - and compassionate conditioning have made her fit for the task.

"She can lift more than 90 percent of men in Mercer County," Kolb said. "Her heart is huge."

Likewise, Anderson has found a mentor and friend in the proud Pittsburgher and philanthropist.

"I'm not even a Steelers' fan," Anderson said with a laugh. "You're more likely to find me wearing Colts gear. But I am a Kolb fan. He is an amazing man who has taught me so much about helping everyone around you."

As volunteers and athletes at Specialty Orthopaedics, Anderson and Kolb concentrate on orthopedics, sports medicine, podiatrics, rehabilitation and fitness needs. Their clients are often afflicted with conditions like multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, ALS and spinal-cord injuries.

On any given day, the duo can be found stretching, massaging and cheering on their patients.

"I do anything from working with multiple sclerosis patients to stretching people with cerebral palsy," said Anderson. "I work with kids who have limitations, yet come in to work on the sport they have always dreamed of playing, and I spend time with the elderly, trying to improve their fitness levels."

Anderson has found tremendous meaning in restoring the independence of those less fortunate than herself and she plans to find some way to create a career assisting the special populations she has come to love.

"I love seeing people improve," she said. "It is so fun to see someone with MS, at the beginning of the summer, who can barely walk outside of their wheelchair, walk up the stairs by the end of the season. It's really rewarding to know that you helped that person and that person's entire family."

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 | mxz1016@sru.edu