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The Antelope

The Antelope

Athletic trainers hold teams together

Athletic teams rely on athletic trainers to perform at highest level

Molly Stern
Antelope Staff

Often student athletic teams are an important part of a university, but what most do not realize is that athletic trainers are the backbone of these teams. Kristyn Watts, a second-year graduate assistant for the UNK athletic department from Ottawa, Kansas, works with the UNK volleyball and softball teams year-round.

“I first fell in love with athletic training after taking a class called “Prevention and Care of Athletes” and decided to go into the athletic training program at Washburn, then continue on to get my masters here at UNK,” Watts said.

Athletic training graduate assistants are each assigned to two different teams during their two years in the program. They are responsible for working with the athletes when they are injured or sick, and travel with their given teams during their seasons.

“I love taking someone who is injured and getting them back to playing again,” Watts said. “I love seeing their success and seeing them bounce back and play even better than they were before they got hurt.”

Being an athletic trainer requires dedication and sacrifice. Most weeks, they put in 50 plus hours between injury prevention, treatments, practices and traveling. “It is a lot more difficult than you would think,” Watts said. “I am always with the team or working with my athletes and whenever the team is doing something, so am I.”

Although time consuming and at times overwhelming, being the backbone of an athletic team can be very rewarding. “It makes me feel very special and like I am needed,” Watts said. “A lot of the public does not really understand what we do, but if my teams appreciate what I do and respect me, then it is all worth it.”

Athletic training is not really talked about as part of an athletic team, but is so important, Watts said. Athletes are bound to be injured at least once in their career, and for teams to continue to be successful and compete, they rely on athletic trainers to get them back to 100 percent.

Along with having a full-time graduate assistant, undergrad athletic training students are also assigned to athletic teams. This year softball has two.

“I am excited for the bonding and the relationships you make with the athletes and the trust you have between everyone that you are going to do your job when they need you,” said Shelby Svatora, a junior athletic training major from Fremont.

As juniors, this is the first year students are able to work with teams and apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in classes. “I am really excited to get up close with the athletes,” said Jordyn Reese, a junior athletic training major from Lincoln. “I am excited to be able to watch them from day one of injury and work with them through rehab and therapy to help them get back on their feet.”

Not only are teams grateful for the athletic trainers, but so are the coaches. “Kristyn, Jordyn and Shelby really do hold our team together,” Holly Carnes, head softball coach said. “There is no way we would be able to perform at the level we do without their assistance and their taking such great care of our girls.”

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