Iím not sure I can think of a sports career as underappreciated as the athletic trainer, who often has to hear the daily complaints of injured athletes and frustrated coaches while working with their own boss, often a sports medicine physician.
Despite all of this, athletic trainers, nearly without fail, approach their work with good humor, optimism, and enthusiasm.
During my playing days, I was fortunate to avoid any serious injuries in football or throwing the discus in track and field during high school and college. But I could always count on a good joke or practical bit of wisdom from one of the trainers at Butler University. They often sent me out to the practice field in a good mood, ready for the sometimes monotonous work required.
As a coach at the high school level, I marveled at the dedication of trainers who attended our practices daily and attended to needs that varied from athletes attempting to return from knee surgery to daily taping sessions. Clearly those taping sessions proved to be as much about mental preparation for our players as any addition to ankle stability. Yes, for as hard as they work, athletes often appreciate some pampering.
Still, somehow the best athletic trainers tolerate all this and bring their best every day. I guess they have been around athletes long enough to realize the physical and mental challenges athletes face.
I tried to give our athletic trainers some credit and urged my athletes to thank them daily. Itís the least we could do.
I was reminded of all of this as I wrote up the career profile on athletic trainers today. Itís a growing field and I hope the appreciation of their work also is growing. Theyíre needed and in my experience, do a tremendous job.