Sideline Support: Athletic Training On and Off the Field
As a high school student, I knew I wanted to study something in college that combined my passions for sports, health, and caring for others, so the idea of studying athletic training really intrigued me. After completing exhaustive research on athletic training programs on the east coast, Ithaca’s program stood out from all the rest. One of the nation’s oldest and most established programs, IC’s athletic training major has a reputation for producing top-notch graduates who’ve made significant contributions to the profession.
Hear Tak, a senior athletic training major, talk about his experience at IC.
During the past four years, my experience has been even more rewarding educationally, professionally, and personally than I ever could have imagined.
One really exciting aspect of the athletic training program is that you begin taking relevant courses early. As a first-year student I was immediately learning how to identify and treat athletic injuries. I remember bragging to friends one weekend that my homework was to practice ankle taping. My upper-level athletic training courses involved a lot of hard work, but the combination of lecture and lab was really effective in helping me to understand the theory behind the examination of an athlete and its application in a practical situation.
Given the hands-on nature of the athletic training profession, the experience you gain while working with a certified clinical instructor is the cornerstone of the program -- over 700 hours of fieldwork are required before graduation, but many students do more.
When doing fieldwork with the boy’s soccer team at Ithaca High School, I learned what it’s like to work with the parents of injured athletes. Using my classroom knowledge, I was able to explain the type and degree of injury that players had sustained, as well as how certain treatments would improve the prognosis. At the end of the soccer season, it felt wonderful to hear from parents who were impressed by and thankful for the care I provided to their children.
In the spring of my junior year, I worked with the Ithaca College baseball team. Since baseball players are prone to shoulder injury, I had plenty of chances to evaluate and manage chronic shoulder problems with the guidance of my clinical instructor. I also helped to implement a rehabilitation program for a player who underwent shoulder surgery during the season. Initially, his rehabilitation was focused on regaining full range of motion.
As he improved, however, new exercises were added to strengthen the shoulder muscles, and simulated throwing motions were eventually introduced. I took measurements of the athlete’s range of motion and strength throughout the process to measure his progress. After several long months of rehab, the player returned to the diamond the next fall, which brought me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and joy.
Athletic training students also spend a great deal of time traveling with teams. When we’re on the road, a certified athletic trainer does not supervise us, so we’re restricted to providing players with prophylactic taping and general first aid. Even still, on almost every trip I took, I had at least one important learning experience that I couldn’t have gotten in the classroom.
One night during a road trip to Florida with the men’s basketball team, a player knocked on my room door. His eye was itchy, and he was worried that he might have conjunctivitis. After examining the eye and contacting my certified instructor to discuss the situation, I was able to tell the player and coach that the condition was likely caused by a virus and that the player should see the team physician when we got back to campus.
I recently graduated, and I am extremely proud of how this program has helped me evolve into a proficient athletic trainer. Along the way I’ve built an exceptionally strong bond with fellow athletic training students and professors, and throughout my clinical assignments I was part of an athletic training staff that provided the highest level of care to athletes. Most important, I have the confidence I need to manage difficult situations in the field and develop into an expert practitioner, and potential employers are sure to recognize that.
Originally published in Fuse: Sideline Support: Athletic Training On and Off the Field.