I love what I do! Being a part of athletics and students’ teams, cheering when they win, consoling when they lose and seeing them come back to their sports after an injury are amazing parts of my job. I joke with my students all the time that they should get a degree so they can clap and eat pizza at games and get paid for it too! People see me, they know I am there for the injury, they know I bring the water to the sidelines and they know that when my sophomore dunks they are going to HEAR me. But really, what do I do? What does it look like to be an athletic trainer?
My day starts before school gets out. I have administrative duties just like everyone else. I file injury reports, I follow up on physical therapy progressions that occur with my students at Hulst Jepsen clinics so I can continue to help at the school where needed, and I talk to administration about schedules and students as needed. When a student has a concussion, I let our assistant principle know what kind of classroom modifications would be helpful and the amazing teachers make sure that modifications are made and students are taken care of. If we have games on a particular day I get water ready, fill my kit(s) as needed and make sure that I don’t have to think about it in a rush later.
The next part of my day starts when the school day ends. This time of day is minimally controlled chaos! It is also the best part of my day. We have about 20-30 minutes to make sure all athletes are ready for practice. I often find myself taping an ankle while talking to someone about a new injury, covering blisters and recommending a brace. To say this time of day includes multitasking is an understatement. There are school tests to complain about, weight lifting modifications to consider, and practice fears to sooth. It happens in the blink of an eye, and then most of them go to practice.
What is left after the rush are more complex injuries to evaluate and additional rehab for the students who still need time to strengthen before they can fully practice. If there are no sporting events that day this continues through the remainder of practice time and then we all go home.
Now, game day is a different animal. Although I get to watch sports for a living, athletic trainers watch sports differently than other fans. I often miss the cool plays because I am waiting for my quarterback to get up, or the goalie who made the save to give me a thumbs up after a hard fall. When the students fail to signal they are ok an athletic trainer may be called on to do CPR, hold C-spine or help someone who is having an asthma attack. Alternatively, we may just have to reassure them they are ok, so their brain can let something go and they can play on. Either way, we are all praying that our services are not needed and that we will rise to the occasion when we are.
When asked what a typical day for an athletic trainer is like, we try our best to answer but, while there is routine, every day brings something new!