Athletic trainers works more than the 9 to 5


by Cassie Norman

Simpson’s athletes may be the ones whose performances on the playing field result in victories or defeats, but when it comes to taking care of those who compete, the group of students working from the sidelines is just as important to the teams’ success.

The athletic training students are hard-working individuals dedicated to keeping their athletes healthy and safe. They are responsible for preparing the athletes before practice and games by taking care of any taping needs. They also fill water and watch practices. Afterwards, the trainers administer any required treatments.

Mike Hadden, program director for athletic training and exercise science, stresses that the students be involved first-hand and get practice working with the athletes under the supervision of the certified trainers on staff.

“We stress that students do evaluations,” Hadden said. “We want to utilize learning experiences when they come up.”

Due to the heavy workload, the athletic trainers must make a significant time commitment. They must show up an hour before practice starts and remain at least a half hour after practice concludes. In the end, the trainers actually spend more time there than the athletes. Junior Erin Palmer says that it takes a great deal of time and patience.

“I’ve had weeks of practices that I put in 35 hours and I’ve had weeks of 85 hours,” Palmer said. “It just depends. The hours do really give you an idea of what work outside will be like.”

First-year students wanting to major in athletic training must first take the prerequisite classes and clock in 50 hours of observation. According to sophomore Pete Butler, this observation time is a good way to get a feel for the major.

“As a freshman, you do all observation,” Butler said. “This is to see if you like it and to find out if it’s right for you.”

Then, in the spring, they must submit an application to be accepted into the program. Acceptance is based on a point system utilizing the student’s grade point average, recommendations, style of learning assessment, and vision statement. With an average of 18 students applying each year and only 10-12 being accepted, competition for a spot in the program can be intense.

After being accepted, sophomore trainers must complete three rotations, including one off campus. This is done with a local high school football team. Juniors and seniors in the program are given three assignments, during which they are assigned to a team for the entire season. Hadden feels this is a big plus for our program.

“The way we have it structured is an ideal situation,” Hadden said. “A lot of schools do rotations. We don’t because it disrupts continuity of care. The way we do it is better for the athletes and better for the students.”

Simpson’s athletic training program also stands out from other schools’ programs academically. The human anatomy class covers gross anatomy, which involves studying real cadavers. Simpson also offers a class preparing students to evaluate for non-muscular skeletal conditions, such as cancer.

Most athletic training majors will go on to graduate school, where they can pursue physical therapy, chiropractics or other similar fields.

Sophomore Emily Nelson plans on getting certified and attending graduate school for physical training. She wants to get a job doing both physical therapy and athletic training. Nelson chose to major in athletic training for a variety of reasons.

“I love people, and I love helping people,” Nelson said. “I also love sports, so being in athletic training is right for me.”

Palmer participated in sports in high school and wanted to stay involved. She also enjoys the chance to make a difference.

“This still gives me a chance to be with athletes and still feel that I’m part of a team,” Palmer said. “It’s awesome to see an individual that has come out of surgery or had been injured, and work with them through rehab, and then see the result – them back out on the field, or court, whatever it may be. It’s nice to know that you made a bit of a difference for their return to activity.”