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Why did you choose UWSP to pursue your athletic training career?
One of my best buddies Mitch went to UW-Stevens Point and I fell in love with the campus atmosphere. UWSP has one of those small-town feels with a campus in the middle, which I enjoyed. I thought the people at Point were very friendly and I really enjoyed getting to know everyone during the times I visited. Then once I applied and got in, it was a no-brainer where I wanted to go with my academic career with athletic training. I love medicine and love anatomy which was something new that I got to do every day. So luckily, I got into the program and the rest was history. I’d say it was a pretty easy decision to pick UWSP. I still look back at my times there and do not regret any second.
How did UWSP help you get to where you are today?
My rotation with the Pointers men’s hockey team was a very big part of it. I applied for many jobs when I first graduated. I applied to graduate programs as well. Nothing was going my way, and then one day I applied to three different places. One was a graduate position, one was a clinical position in Minnesota, and the other was a high school position in Illinois. I remember calling Holly Schmies, and I was like I don’t know what to do. I have three different positions. This one is paying more, this one is better for education, and this one is a cooler opportunity, what do I do? Holly said, “Money will come in the future, pick the cooler opportunity for sure. You’ll learn more hands-on about what you want to do.” So I went to Illinois for a job interview and got down there. He said, “We aren’t going to hire you for the high school position, but we have a hockey position in the SPHL with the Peoria Riverman and we want to offer you that job.” I was like yes, 100%, sign me up. I thought it was the coolest thing. I was with professional sports; I didn’t realize the level of the league I was in. I just thought it was just a cool opportunity. I didn’t realize there were other leagues other than the NHL and I had to work my way up to get there, but I’m so glad I went there. That hockey rotation was the only reason he looked at my resume in the first place because he saw that I had hockey experience with UWSP. Along with it, all the professors were awesome–Danelle, Holly and Beth. The way they taught was that they understood that there are different ways of learning and they provided a mixture of all times. It was a cool experience to have with them along with the smaller class size of twelve people. So, we got to know everyone really close and it became more of a family.
What setting(s) were you interested in during the program vs where you are now? Did you envision yourself in the setting you’re in now when you were in the UWSP program?
Professional sports weren’t even on my radar. I thought to myself that I would go to a high school and be happy there. College came around and I thought I’d like to do it since I liked the atmosphere. Those were the two I was set on and where I’m at now just kind of fell in my lap. We took it and ran with it and haven’t looked back since.
What are some of the biggest rewards of your current setting?
Looking back, I was never the strongest academic person. College clicked better for me. The biggest reward is looking back at where I came from and seeing where I’m at now. Having people doubt that I wouldn’t make anything of myself is probably the biggest reward. To share my accomplishments with my friends and family, move up the ranks within my career, and make something of myself. I think you should always strive for more and you should never be content where you’re at. Being around the players and the staff. Everyone here with the Florida Panthers is unbelievable, they are so welcoming so it’s very rewarding showing up to work every day loving what you do.
What is your favorite part about being an athletic trainer?
It’s something new every day. We don’t deal with the same thing every day. Our profession doesn’t just sit at the desk crunching number. We’re out in the field covering different things and sports every day. I get to see different injuries and try different techniques every day. I get to learn from my coworkers or through online or in-person learning classes. I get the best seats in the house and watch one of the nation’s biggest events, so that’s pretty cool.
What advice do you have for MS-AT students heading into their first ATC positions?
Keep your head up, there are going to be some good days, there are going to be some bad days. It’s not all going to be great memories. You’re going to have some tough and long days. Seeing your first big injury can be a pretty scary event and it’s ok to talk to people about it. Always find that one person you can go to a vent it out. That’s something I learned very quickly; it’s a scary job that we do sometimes. But it’s ok to talk to people about it. We also wear many hats as athletic trainers. We’re going to deal with some equipment stuff, injuries, rehabs, water and even help coaches. Sometimes we were so many hats that you no longer had the mindset of only being athletic trainers. You’re going to be the person people come talk to vent.