Since my junior year of high school I have wanted nothing more than to go to college to become an athletic trainer. This influence came from the athletic trainer that worked for my high school at the time. Her name is Rolinda and
she was (and still is I’m sure) incredibly amazing in her role of athletic trainer. Before Rolinda joined the athletic department at Pelham High School I wanted to be a lawyer: to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps of going to Boston College and Boston College Law School. During preseason training of my junior year, that all changed. It wasn’t until Rolinda spent time with my field hockey team giving us information on all kinds of things athletes need to know like how to stay healthy throughout the season, stretches for sore muscles, snacks to fuel workouts and the importance of foam rolling and recovery sticks that I was fascinated with the field of athletic training.
Upon my arrival to Plymouth State in the fall of 2012 the only class I looked forward to was Introduction to Athletic Training with Dr. Linda Levy. I had done my research and realized that Plymouth State has one of the best athletic training programs in the state, mostly due to the faculty of the department. On the first day of class we jumped right in and got our first rolls of tape and I fell in love from that moment on. As a very hands-on learner I knew this program was going to be the right fit for me. Not only did my first athletic training class develop the passion I had for this field even further but it also gave me a background on how this discipline came to be.
The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) was established in 1950
with about 200 athletic trainers from across the country collaborating to start this organization. While this was the first recognized athletic trainer society, athletic trainers have been around treating athletes for much, much longer. The first athletic trainer in the United States was hired by Harvard University in 1881 to train their track and field athletes. The field has developed exponentially since and continues to grow and adapt to the needs of athletes in every sport. Athletic training developed from ‘training athletes’ in specifically track and field to providing essential care for injuries and helping athletes return to play at 100%. The ever changing world of athletic training continues to develop with technology. This provides athletic trainers with more tools to diagnose and treat injuries, create rehabilitation and prehabilitation programs, and ensure the safety of athletes during practice and games.
Here at Plymouth State, athletic training became an official major less than twenty years ago. I was unaware of that until now and it makes me smiles because I’m older than the official athletic training program. Athletic training was originally offered as an option for physical education majors and has developed into a bachelor’s degree program and two different master’s degree programs. The content and methods of athletic training are ever expanding to include new technologies to help better athlete performance. Thinking about the epistemologies of athletic training brings me back to my days of being an athlete. The number one goal of all athletic trainers no matter what level is prevention and care if injuries and of course safety of the athletes. So why do athletic trainers have to learn the way they do? They are part of a sports team, a family, and they need to know how to care for that family when it’s hurt in every way possible.
Athletic trainers get a very multidisciplinary education whether they know it or not. As I’ve stated in a previous post, athletic training is a sub discipline of sports medicine. Sports medicine also includes many disciplines related to athletic training and that are integrated into the content of athletic training education. Examples of this are exercise physiology, biomechanics, sport nutrition, and sport psychology. With my approach to athletic training education, I have taken the time to ensure I fully understand the content of all these other supporting disciplines and how they apply to athletic training.
Athletic training educational content includes supporting classes such as anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and exercise physiology to create a base of information about the human body and how it functions during exercise and sports. With each semester in the program getting more hands-on, the content gets more difficult as one progresses towards senior year and board of certification exams. The hands-on methods in the curriculum come in the form of injury assessment classes, taping classes and of course clinical rotations. By far one of my favorite aspects of athletic training education is the observation hours and clinical hours that students spend with the athletic teams here at the university. As a freshman, you get the opportunity to familiarize with the athletic training room, a place that you will call home by your senior year in the program.
One of my absolute favorite things about the athletic training community is that there is not prioritization of sports, they are all equal. To me it doesn’t matter what sport, an athlete is an athlete and they want to perform in the
best way possible. That is why I really aspire to be the best athletic trainer I can be, to better athletes. There is no such thing as having too much knowledge about athletic training. While you could specialize in it, there are so many disciplines and sub disciplines involved in being an athletic trainer, good luck if you choose to try and conquer them all. In order to be successful with a team you must know stretches for every muscle, be able to build a weight room workout program, aid athletes with nutrition, know every special muscle test in order to correctly diagnose injuries, thoroughly understand the different therapeutic modalities, etc. There is a lot that goes into athletic training, which is why the educational programs are challenging. The amount of content that needs to be covered demands various methods of teaching, which PSU’s program has successfully done in my eyes.
The Journal of Athletic Training is a scholarly peer reviewed journal put out by the NATA on a periodical basis. It includes research in the field and information on anything and everything athletic trainers may know. My favorite athletic training Twitter account is @ATAdvocacy. This account focuses on promoting and advocating for athletic training as a profession and puts out some pretty awesome retweets and tweets about injuries and rehab programs along with concussion research which I particularly enjoy. I am very passionate about the career I have chosen and plan on continuing to gather information on how I can be the best athletic trainer by mastering the content and methods of my discipline.