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More than Just a Passion for Sports

by Michaela Pereira '12

When we attend college sporting events, we watch players, coaches, and even the school mascot, but many of us forget some key people who are also part of the game—student athletic trainers.

Azusa Pacific University’s Athletic Training major offers a two and a half year program that allows students to be eligible to sit for the for the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer examination to become a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).

Once accepted into the program, student athletic trainers become involved with clinicals that offer hands on experience of what it is like to be an athletic trainer to athletes in various sports.

“It can be challenging, balancing my best care for the athletes and the student interns," said April Reed, assistant director for the program. "We want to allow the students use the skills they are learning in class. Often times we will create scenarios to give them ideas of how to apply it practicality.”

“All of the ACIs [athletic clinical instructors] and teachers have been in our shoes and remember what it was like to be a student and the challenges we face, so it is easy to relate to all of them,” said Spenser Bowers ’12.

Being an athletic training major requires balancing a full load of classes, clinical hours, and for some students, working at other jobs as well. Danielle Torp ‘12 shared, “I have to juggle 17 units, more than 20 hours of clinical work, and 23 hours of work.”

Nonetheless, their love for their major keeps them going. “Something I love about this major is the relationships we are able to build with the athletes on and off campus. We have many opportunities to be able to witness to others by showing the love of Jesus by just doing what we do,” said Torp.

There are common misconceptions about student athletic trainers, whether thinking they train athletes like a personal trainer does, or thinking the athletic training major is easy. Bowers explains, “Athletic trainers help an injured athlete get back to where he or she used to be prior to injury. Personal trainers, on the other hand, strengthen athletes who are already in good condition or improve someone's health.”

To be successful, having a support system helps students stay healthy and manage their schedules. Chris Schmidt, Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP) director, is a key part of that support system.

“In many ways, our students have their own accountability and discipleship groups among each other,” said Schmidt. “We use a cohort model of education so students are in the same classes for at least two and a half years, and many of them have the same clinical rotations together. This creates an invaluable shared experience and memories that last a lifetime.”

Gloria Juarez, ’12, said, “[Athletic training staff and faculty] all want to see us succeed; they are always willing to help us. They teach us something new every day and through those times you see their passion for athletic training.”

For all they do, most athletic trainers go unnoticed, working hard behind the scenes. “No one knows who we are, but we do so much for the athletes. Athletic trainers are some of the most humble people—we don't need to be known, the love and appreciation we get from our athletes is enough for us," said Thorp.

"Something I love about this major is the relationships we are able to build with the athletes on and off campus."