Treat the Pros as an Athletic Trainer
Stephen Borkowski, Monster Staff Writer
You’re good at your job, but could you do it with tens of thousands of fans scrutinizing your every move? That’s what professional sports teams’ athletic trainers do every time they hit the field. “They need to make very logical, calculated judgments in an environment that may not be nice and quiet,” says Larry Leverenz, PhD, clinical professor and director of athletic training education at Purdue University.
Athletic trainers for professional sports teams work to ensure the health and physical well-being of the players. John Worley, former head athletic trainer for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League team, would be with the team at home, on the road, at games and at practice. He was the first-care responder for any injuries, directing the initial stages of care.
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Salary: $21,940 - $57,580
Min. Education: Bachelor's Degree
Related Careers: Fitness Trainer, Physical Therapist
Hats, Hats, Hats
Athletic trainers aren’t limited to treating injuries. “You wear many hats when you’re an athletic trainer with a professional team,” Worley says. He supervised the care of sick players, worked with the team’s nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach and coordinated any of the ancillary services the players used.
David Cohen, former head trainer for the Lowell Spinners, a minor league baseball team in Massachusetts, also had multiple responsibilities. “We take care of healthcare, strength and conditioning, rehabilitation and team travel as well as just about anything else you can think of,” he says.
Even though Cohen would get the Spinners from city to city, coordinating meals and hotels, he says trainers used to do even more. “Thirty years ago, the trainer used to drive the bus and do the laundry,” he says. “These days, that’s not the case.”
Unlike a hot NBA prospect, an athletic trainer can’t turn pro before high school graduation. At a minimum, trainers must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and pass a certification exam from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Many trainers also pursue master’s degrees.
Athletic training students study 20 different subject areas, ranging from injury assessment to biomechanics to psychology. “It’s a somewhat rigorous academic program,” Leverenz says.