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I am Thankful to be an Athletic Trainer – Part 4

Editor’s Note: Being thankful and celebrating the good things in life are very much a part of this time of year.  As you celebrate the New Year, it’s important to look back and review your achievements and be proud of your accomplishments.  In this series, our BOC guest writers take a look back at their career as Athletic Trainers and share their stories on what makes them feel thankful to be in this profession. 

The Meaning of Life: My Journey as an Athletic Trainer

By Desi Rotenberg, MS, LAT, ATC

Throughout my life experiences, I have been searching for the meaning of life.  Throughout my journey, I have come across occurrences and situations that caused me to question my findings.  I have come to the conclusion the meaning of life is simple, yet incredibly difficult: the meaning of life is to help people.

I feel blessed every day that I fell into the athletic training field, because it showed me the purpose of what it means to be a member of the human race.  I could not really understand what was happening at the time, but in hindsight, my time as an Athletic Trainer (AT) has had a bigger impact than I could have ever imagined.

I have been a certified AT since 2012.  I have always had a strong connection to the rehabilitation aspect of sports medicine and was drawn to it when I accepted a position as a graduate assistant at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the campus recreation center.  My job was simple. I was responsible for the safety and well-being of recreational student athletes.

Over the course of 2 years, I took part in or was responsible for the rehabilitation of roughly 150 individuals who had suffered some type of injury that required them to miss time from their respective sports, or in some cases, activity altogether.  Being in the moment, I knew I was doing a service for these individuals, who would come to the athletic training facility for the free advice and amenities, but I was unaware of the impact my attention to these individuals would later have.

Fast forward 2 years and to the main topic of this editorial: an experience that makes me thankful to be an AT.  Rather than one experience, I have to mention several moments that both inspired me and brought a sense of eternal gratitude.  Several times since I graduated from UCF, I have had former patients contact me to thank me for everything I did for them.  I would be walking in the mall, or at the store, and a former patient would walk up to me, with a huge smile on their face and embrace me.  The energy and love I could feel were more than anything I can put into words.  It brought with it a sense of humility that my actions and words as an AT have impacted the lives of so many people.

Being contacted by these individuals also brings me a great sense of pride.  Proud of where I came from. Proud of where I am.  Proud of who I am.  Being an AT helped me uncover the meaning of life, which I believe is to help as many people as possible, and to make a positive impact in the lives of everyone we encounter, both in our professional and personal lives.

I cannot be thankful for one specific moment.  Rather my gratitude and thankfulness goes out to everyone who contributed to who I am as a professional and as a person.  This blog is dedicated to my teachers, professors, preceptors and peers at the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Central Florida, to all of the professional and personal relationships that have shaped me into the person that I am and to all of the professionals who have shared advice and knowledge with me.  And lastly, this blog is dedicated to all of the ATs out there, who commit themselves every single day to helping people in all avenues and who continue to move the world forward, by helping others achieve their full potential.