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Wheeling Park High School senior Francesca Malinky found not one but two homes as a Patriot.

Francesca is hard at work every day as a student trainer at Wheeling Park High School football practices. The 2020-2021 school year is her fourth as a trainer for Patriot athletes in multiple sports.

Francesca also can’t wait for Sept. 8 to arrive so she can get back to business in Park’s Career and Technical Education Broadcast Technology Program. She said she is excited to return to the Palace on the Hill even under the unusual circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m very excited,” Francesca said. “This is my last year. I definitely miss being with my friends every day. My best friend is in broadcasting with me, and I’m friends with the trainers and the football players.”

Former Wheeling Park High School baseball Coach Mike McLeod is Francesca’s stepfather. Watching him lead his Patriot ball players inspired her interest in athletic training, and she’s loved it since the moment she became involved in it.

“I was in seventh grade when my stepdad was the coach, and I saw the girls (trainers) working with the players,” she said. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be close to the action.”

Although she loves working as an athletic trainer, she admitted there are aspects of the job that aren’t so enjoyable.

“The nastiest thing I’ve seen was a knee that popped out of its socket,” she said. “I’ve seen broken fingers and rolled ankles. You never know what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t bother me though. It makes it worse when it’s one of my friends, but I’m glad that I can be there to help. I like being there for them.”

Francesca is a great student, and she maintains a 4.3 GPA. She’s very proud of that. Francesca represents Wheeling Park as a SkillsUSA state officer. She will soon complete a 100-hour internship that will earn her the Governor’s Workforce Credential, which is the highest achievement and honor a student in the Career and Technical Education Program can earn.

Francesca does not yet know where she wants to attend college, but she may continue her involvement in broadcast technology and major in communications. She’s also interested in studying business at the next level.

“I’m nervous about what happens after my senior year,” Francesca said. “I don’t know where I want to go, but I’m thinking about majoring in communications and maybe a minor in business. I could do something in human resources or advertising. I’m not sure. I’m thinking about being an athletic trainer in college, but I’ll have to see how much time is involved.”

Francesca said she will miss Wheeling Park High School once she graduates, and she will miss teachers Caroline Dillon, Kevin Orth and athletic trainer Lisa Berner. Heading into her senior year, Francesca can’t wait for the Friday night moment in which her love for athletic training intersects with her passion for broadcasting.

“Broadcasting is my favorite part of school, and training is what I look forward to after school,” she said. “I’m a trainer, and I’m also doing broadcasting during Park football games. I’m so excited to do my last year of interviews with Coach Doc at halftime.”

Photo: Wheeling Park High School Senior Francesca Malinky  is shown during a halftime interview with Patriot Head Football Coach Chris Daugherty.

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