Alyssa: As in “John and Alyssa’s”

by Lucia Zaremba ’25, Online Managing Editor and Social Media Manager for The Polygon

Whether to talk about the day or get physical assistance, John and Alyssa’s office is where students want to be.

“Let’s just go to John and Alyssa’s,” agreed the congregation of students as they stumbled down the stairwell leading to the Poly Prep Athletic Trainer’s Office, more commonly known as “John and Alyssa’s.”

Another student in the group exclaimed, “I cannot wait to tell Alyssa what happened at practice yesterday,” almost shouting at the excitement of this realization. The others agreed, and they continued their journey down to John and Alyssa’s.

Student athletes at Poly Prep fill up the Athletic Trainer’s Office throughout the day, often seen either chatting with Athletic Trainer Alyssa Alaimo in her office, or sharing a laugh with other students as they get their ankles wrapped. The room is always bustling with chatter, except for the 35-minute period once a day when Alyssa goes out to eat lunch, and the office is deserted. During this time, students can be seen patiently waiting outside, depressingly staring at the “out of office” sign. Whether it is sitting in the office to talk about their day or getting physical assistance, John and Alyssa’s is where students want to be.

Athletic trainers John Pomponio and Alyssa Alaimo
John Pomponio and Alyssa Alaimo (Photo: IZ Nissen ’24)

Alyssa has been an athletic trainer at Poly Prep Upper School since 2018. “I love the coaches, I love the athletic staff,” she notes. Alyssa’s love for Poly trails all the way back to her work here when she was a college student. Alyssa was studying to be an athletic trainer at Long Island University (LIU) Brooklyn from 2015-2017, and during her last semester she got placed at Poly Prep as a clinical site, where she met John Pomponio, her future colleague.

Following her clinical experience at Poly, Alyssa knew it was where she wanted to spend her career as an athletic trainer. John, whom Alyssa shadowed during her time at Poly, fully supported her in these dreams. John has been the head athletic trainer at Poly Prep since 2006. He also earned his athletic trainer credentials at LIU Brooklyn, according to Poly’s website. 

Alyssa and John stayed in contact after she graduated from college, as John knew how much Alyssa loved being at Poly. They worked so well together, and Poly was where they both really wanted to be. 

“If he ever needed extra help, he would call me… Even if he didn’t pay me and just needed an extra set of hands, I would call him in a heartbeat,” she said, “Just because I loved it here so much.” 

Athletic Trainer Alyssa Alaimo works on student's ankle

In the summer of 2018, a position opened up for a new athletic trainer at Poly. John recommended Alyssa and she quickly got the job. “It was… amazing because I sent my resume, within 24 hours I had an interview, and within 48 hours of my interview I had a job offer,” she explains, smiling at the thought of it. “It all happened within a week,” she continues. 

Since coming back to Poly to work full time, John and Alyssa’s personal and professional relationship truly began to blossom into the one that Poly students know today. Their friendship and chemistry is such an important aspect of their jobs that it quite literally became the nickname for the Athletic Trainer’s Office. 

“There are crazy times where we share… a brain, it seems like, but it’s because he taught me, so I have part of his working ethic in me,” Alyssa explains. John taught Alyssa time management and how to handle responsibilities as an athletic trainer. He invested time into making Alyssa a great trainer and an even better co-worker. 

“[…]Because we have [a close] relationship, we know ‘this is how Alyssa likes things, this is how John likes things,’” said Alyssa. “It really helps to know each other’s personality.” John and Alyssa have a close relationship outside of Poly as well; they even get along great with each other’s significant others.

“John and Alyssa are a great duo, they just work so well together,” said junior Gianna Denis ’25, “everyone knows it.” Denis is on the Poly Prep Varsity Softball team and often finds herself in the Athletic Trainer’s for either arm care or advice on how to keep her body safe from injury. Other times, she finds herself there during her free periods or before practice to just “hang out” in John and Alyssa’s. 

Alyssa and John worked together at a physical therapy clinic outside of Poly for a couple years, and this is when Alyssa realized that a high school setting is where she wanted to be. “I love the high school setting because you get to really… hone in on a person’s growth, as an athlete, as a student, you get to be part of that,” she explained. 

The University of Idaho published an article identifying the importance of having athletic trainers in high schools. Within this article they listed the purposes of an athletic trainer, including “injury prevention, recognition, diagnosis, and care,” “therapeutic interventions,” and “administrative duties.” While John and Alyssa do all these things, they also do way more, going above and beyond their duties as athletic trainers. Denis recalled a time earlier this year where she had a rough day and found herself in the athletic trainers office sounding off to Alyssa about her workload. Later that same day, Denis found herself back in the trainers office, doing stretches and exercises under the guidance of John and Alyssa after experiencing back pain at practice that afternoon. John and Alyssa’s friendship is the basis of this climate for athletes. 

Athletic Trainera Alyssa Alaimo and John Pomponio talk to student

What students know as “John and Alyssa’s” started at just the Athletic Trainer’s Office. John recognized the potential in Alyssa as a trainer and as a co-worker, and together they transformed the facility into the space it is today. As the Athletic Trainer’s Office transformed, so did Alyssa. Their friendship and the opportunities John gave Alyssa helped her blossom from a young, dreaming, college student, into a successful athletic trainer at the school of her dreams.

“I’m very fortunate enough [to] have a friend like John,” said Alyssa fondly.

Note: This article was originally published in The Polygon’s September /October 2023 issue.