These question(s) identify and address the interests, needs and concerns of young athletic training professionals. Young professional Mike Hopper, ATC, has teamed up with the experience of Danielle Kleber, ATC, to highlight some of the issues young professionals find themselves dealing with early in their careers.
What advice do you have for that first-time professional to establish his/her position as an Athletic Trainer? It has been shared that individuals (especially females) struggle because they are mistaken for one of the students in a high school setting.
This may sound like too simple of an answer, but my best advice for someone to establish themselves as a professional, especially in a high school setting, is to simply not act like a student.
If the way you present yourself is similar to how high school kids act, chances are older colleagues are going to be less likely to respect you and the professional knowledge you bring to the table.
Frequently, I see new grads striving more to be friends with the student-athletes and less to be like their colleagues. Student-athletes have plenty of friends, both in real life and virtually. I promise they will be okay without one more on that list. I also see new grads on their cell phones constantly. My athletic director once mentioned he didn’t want to bother my assistant because she was always on her cell phone. Use your cell phone in a productive and reasonable manner, but you do not have to be glued to it every second of the day.
Another pitfall I’ve seen is not keeping discussions in the athletic training room appropriate. There is no need to allow kids to talk about drinking, sex, or other inappropriate topics. And, you definitely should not be the person discussing what you did on Saturday night.
My final suggestion would be to consider calling those you work with by their first names because you are now a colleague with the teachers and administrators in your school. It implies you are on the same level and not on the level of a student who is expected to address them formally as Mr. Smith or Mr. Johnson. Believe me – this feels weird at first!
One last suggestion - don’t be the elusive “kid” that only hangs out in the athletic training room. Meet your coaches and attend group functions so people can get to know you and interact with you as a co-worker.
Michael Hopper, ATC, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health Management: Athletic Training Concentration from Southeast Missouri State University in 2010. He is a current graduate student through the University of South Florida working towards a Master’s Degree in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Athletic Training. Hopper has worked with athletes of all ages from youth sports all the way up to professional baseball and currently works for Monroe Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Waterloo, IL.
Danielle Kleber, ATC, attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Fitness and Leisure Management with emphasis in Athletic Training and went on to complete her master’s coursework at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in Fitness and Wellness Promotion. Her professional experience includes collegiate and high school experience and she has worked with athletes at all levels of competition. Currently she works at the Director of Operations at Athletes’ Training Center, a sports performance and physical therapy facility in Omaha, NE.