Alumni Spotlight: Tara Grubbs `05

Graceland alumni Tara Grubbs `05

At the end of the game, with just a few minutes left on the clock, Tara (Eskridge) Grubbs ʼ05 ran across the field to attend to the opposing team’s player who was down. When Christian Lerma collapsed, Grubbs instinctively thought it was a concussion, a common reaction from a hit during a soccer game, but the players surrounding him claimed he hadn’t been hit.

“When I got to him, he wasn’t responding to me or his coach and then he started having trouble breathing,” explained Grubbs. “The coach was already on the phone with EMS when I remembered that labored breathing can be a sign of cardiac arrest and immediately yelled – someone bring me the AED*! It felt like I had tunnel vision around me and was solely focused on the athlete in front of me. There were two doctors and a nurse in the stands that all rushed down to the field to help after they heard me yell. I knew his life was on the line. I just never thought I would see that.”

Grubbs is the head athletic trainer at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas, and has become a local celebrity after a soccer game in February when she saved a young man’s life. She was prepared and ready in the moment of emergency. “I’m thankful for my coursework in athletic training from Graceland!”

Late in her Graceland career, Grubbs found what she wanted to do. As a freshman, she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian, so she started out as a pre-med major. But after helping out in her aunt’s vet practice, she knew she might want to consider another path. “I was at her clinic helping take a grass seed out of a dog’s paw. I remember the smell of ammonia being really strong, and next thing I knew I had fainted and was on the ground,” laughed Grubbs. “I loved animals so much, and I didn’t think I would be able to put animals down.”

She loved playing volleyball and thought she wanted to coach, so she switched to biology and secondary education, but that wasn’t quite right either. Then, in the second half of her junior year, after speaking with GU athletic trainer John Bartholomew, Grubbs found a career that combined both her love for medicine and her love for sports. Grubbs stayed an extra year to complete a rigorous degree in athletic training (AT), which required over 1,000 hours clinical practice in numerous sporting events focused on the different extremities or parts of the body where injury might occur.  

"I love that I found something I can do that included my love for sports and love for the medical field. I get to help students on a daily basis and form lasting relationships with them and see them grow into adults. AT has some grueling hours, early mornings and late evenings, but I love what I do."

The Graceland experience allowed Grubbs to find her way and prepared her for a career in which she became the right person at the right time, and with the right skills to save a life. “I’m very thankful for my time at Graceland. It’s something I’ll never forget. Some of my best friendships to this day, are friendships that were formed during my time there.”

*An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electricity which stops the arrhythmia.