In-Depth Look: Assistant Athletic Trainer for The Original Harlem Globetrotters
Austin Burns, ATC is the Assistant Athletic Trainer for The Original Harlem Globetrotters. The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that combines athletics, performing arts and comedy.
Describe your setting:
I work in a setting with a mixture of professional sports and performing arts.
How long have you worked in this setting?
I have worked in this setting for a little over a year and will be beginning my second tour this holiday season.
Describe your typical day:
Depending on the city we are playing in and how far we have to travel to the next city, my day will typically begin around 6:00am. We are usually on the bus by 8:00am and then off to the next location. After traveling for roughly 4 to5 hours, we check into our hotel and grab a quick lunch.
Afterwards, I head to the arena to meet up with our production and equipment truck. I’ll start by meeting with the arenas facility manager to locate the locker rooms and familiarize myself with the layout of the building. I’ll then help the truck driver unload all of my equipment and supplies; this is usually in a hallway somewhere.
The players, coaches and remaining staff arrive to the arena around 4:00pm and hold a walk through practice. At 5:00pm, I begin all of the pregame routines including stretching, taping, prehab exercise, and various other treatments depending on the needs of the athletes. At 6:45pm, the pregame entertainment begins so I’ll end all treatments and get changed for the show. The show starts at 7:00pm and runs for 2 hours.
During the show, my primary focus is no different than any other Athletic Trainer (AT). I manage acute injuries, perform wound care, make sure the athletes are hydrated and stay alert for anything out of the ordinary. Following the end of the show, the athletes have an autograph session for 20 minutes. I use this time to make ice bags, pack my equipment, load the truck and perform any additional treatments.
By 10:00pm, we are back on the bus and on our way to the hotel. Once in my room, I enter in the medical notes for the day and try to get to bed by 12:00am so I can repeat it all the next day.
What do you like about your position?
What I like most about my position is how creative and adaptive I have to be when working on location. Not having a designated room to perform treatments and exercise can be very challenging. Most days, I find myself performing corrective exercise and prehab on the bus, manual and soft tissue therapies in the hotel room and ice baths in the hotel room tubs. This can be difficult when working with athletes who are all over 6 feet 5 inches tall and can’t fit in the seats, beds or tubs.
What I also love about my position is getting to see the joy people experience when coming to one of our shows. So many children and adults leave the game smiling and laughing. To know you helped make that happen is really rewarding.
What do you dislike about your position?
The hardest part about the position is being on the road for 5 to6 months at a time. Being away from friends and family can start to take a toll on you. Fortunately, you begin to develop a small family with the athletes and staff involved in the production, which helps with the home sicknesses.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?
The advice I would give to any young AT looking at this setting would be to go for it!
Don’t think because you have only worked in football, baseball or basketball your whole career that you can’t tackle performing arts or any other setting. I have become a more well-rounded AT because I chose to challenge myself by working in new and different settings.
I was very nervous when I started in this position but am grateful I made the decision to take on this role.