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Washington State University
College of Education


#ThrowbackThursday: Matthew Rinaldi

Matthew Rinaldi – Athletic Training


Tell us a little about your background.
I was born in Moscow, ID and grew up in Spokane. Growing up coming down to Pullman for football and basketball games was a regular occurrence so I’ve always been a Coug at heart.

What did you study at WSU? Did you always know you wanted to study that?
At WSU I studied athletic training. When I was young I helped my mom study while she was going through massage therapy school.  Early on that cultivated an interest in medicine for me. I had further exposure to athletic trainers and physical therapists through playing sports and always had such great experiences with them and saw how much they helped us all. So, going into college I knew iI had an interest in the medical field and wanted to have a profession that put me in a position to help people so athletic training was a natural fit.

What has been your favorite thing about WSU, as well as the College of Education?
The sense of community around WSU is truly incredible and I have been fortunate to experience that community for most of my life. Whether that’s the random “go cougs” in an airport, a flag flying on TV, or a professional connection, it is alway easy to find support of a coug somewhere. Within the College of Education, the professors are what made it feel special. Professors who frequently went the extra mile to ensure success of the student.

Is there a memory you have from WSU that stands out in your mind as unforgettable, transformative, etc.?
So many fond memories that stand out in different ways. As part of the athletic training program I had the great experience to work alongside all of the athletic teams including spending my senior year with the football team. Being able to travel with the team was an incredible experience both for my education and professional experience, but also just a lot of fun being able to travel to other stadiums and have great times with co-workers and classmates. Another memory that has been transformative for me probably seemed like just another day in the classroom. I had a professor, Dr. Hildenbrand, who shared with us a quote: “attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal.” While I’m sure this is not an original quote to her, but how she presented it that day made a large impact and is a quote I come back to very frequently, sometimes daily, to help guide how I approach challenges.

What has your career path been since you left WSU? What do you currently do? Tell us about your NOW life!
After leaving WSU I went to EWU for physical therapy school. From there I worked in a physical therapy clinic in Spokane and worked to establish athletic training coverage at a local high school. My wife and I then moved to Denver for 3 years where I worked as a physical therapist and took on a new job, DAD! During that time we had our two lovely daughters and have since moved back to Pullman this last July where I work for Summit PT as a PT and help educate current WSU athletic training and kinesiology students in the clinic.

What makes you an agent of change?
Professionally, I strive to be an agent of change in each patient I interact with. My goal is to inspire and curate in themselves skills and habits that will help improve their quality of life, whether that be reducing pain, getting back to work, or being able to run 10 miles. Outside of work, I see myself as an agent of change each day to my daughters, hoping to instill in them qualities I feel allow me to facilitate change: kindness, optimism, patience, responsibility, and open-mindedness.


Food: Peanut Butter 

Restaurant in Pullman: Sella’s

Band: No favorite, just love good music in all genres.

Song: Currently, Achilles Come Down, by Gang of Youths

Movie: Saving Private Ryan / O Brother, Where Art Thou?

TV show: LOST

Favorite Coug sport: Football

Favorite spot on campus (when you were a student): Kimbrough Hall… roof.

Hobby: Board Games!

Place to visit (you’ve been to): Manarola, Italy

Dream vacation spot (you haven’t been to): Cuneo, Italy