As many of us enter the working world as a young aspiring professional in our field, we tend to wonder what it would be like first rattle out of the cage. We are afraid, excited, and yet somewhat apprehensive of it all. Prior to entering the world of young professionals, our lives as young adults in college are spent in burning the late night oil trying to accomplish our one goal: graduating. Afterwards, we seek out what we think would be the easiest thing-securing the job. But, we are still unsure of what to expect once we begin our career. I use to think that a day job would be easy. Though athletic trainers don’t really follow the typical 8am-5PM protocol of work, there is still a lot to say for what we do. Here are a few reasons why I love being an athletic trainer:
1) Every day is something new- In this line of work, you can expect the unexpected. Whether it’s being on the sideline at a football game, sitting under a tent at a soccer match, or getting up close and personal on the basketball court, every day presents it’s own challenges. I personally have witnessed a variety of injuries and issues that have been personally challenging for me. At the end of the day, you have dealt with or seen an injury, a psychosocial issue with an athlete, dealt with a parent, or witnessed that big “W” from your favorite team.
2) It keeps me young- It takes a special kind of person to do what we do. Being a former athlete myself, I couldn’t get enough play time. Whether it was for myself, or for my father, there was never enough time for me to obtain all the play time that could satisfy me. Sometimes I reflect back on what times where like when I was a kid- often wishing that I could go back in time and relive those glory days on the field. I often watch kids catch the hail mary that allows them to score the winning touchdown in a game that separates the men from the boys. Seeing young student athletes achieve something that I would not consider a small feat, makes me feel like I’m a high school kid again. Not to mention being around student athletic trainers who are half my age. They alone keep me on my toes.
3) Personal satisfaction- I hate to admit it but there are those times when we all witness an athlete go down on the field. Whether it’s a sprained ankle, a subluxed shoulder, or a torn ACL, we are called on as a confidant and health care professional to use our skills and knowledge and utilize it to the fullest, so we can return that particular student athlete or “all star” back to full player’s status. For me, there is nothing more rewarding then having a student athlete bounce back from such a horrific injury, only to score the highest percentage points in a district game. Not to mention, there is always that big “thank you” from the parent themselves J
4) You become a mentor- Yes, yes, yes. I hate to admit it too, but I did have ill feelings towards school counselors and mentors when I was in school. We used to think that all of those health and nutrition classes we took wouldn’t be necessary. Little did I know, I was wrong. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked about nutrition, health, or even weight training. You will soon realize that after you develop a rapport with athletes, you will be the one that they come to in dire needs of advice.
As you can see, there is a lot more to athletic training that just taping and give the typical “ice water” treatment. Athletic trainers are what I always consider the step children of the athletic program. Like musical composers, we are the ones who remain in the background and wait in the wings in case we there is a medical emergency. We are underpaid and overworked but to me, there is nothing in the world like sitting in the dugout eating sunflower seeds and watching the game from an up close and personal view. In my opinion, sometimes as the bench warmer, you not only get the best seat in the house, but also hold the most important position on the team.