We aren't going to school to someday be the one who does surgery on your brain, we aren't studying to be your nurse at your next hospital visit, and no, we aren't going to be training any of your athletes.
We are a different breed of the medical field. We aren't just gallons of Gatorade and band-aids.
We are athletic training students, and we chose a major that is just as physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding as the next.
We spend hours in a classroom learning how to react in different situations, and we then go apply the skills to the sport we are assigned. Early morning workouts begin at six. You can best believe that you will need to be there by 5:15.
Classes begin at eight, they end at 12:30 pm, and you have to report to your practice by 1:00. Some days the snack machine is your best friend because you don't have time to go and grab anything to eat.
You make sure you set up for the three hour practice, and you assist with any treatments before hand. You spend your time at practice making sure the water and Gatorade is always full, stretching any athlete if needed, and asking your preceptor as many questions about every scenario and personal experience possible.
Practice ends, you clean all of the coolers, and you finish by assisting with more treatments. Sometimes you are lucky if you leave by seven or eight at night. Games are the most exciting part, but there's so much hard work put into making sure everything is done right, and the work is even harder when traveling.
A fanny pack full of first aid supplies becomes your new accessory, you master the art of creating a perfect ice bag, and you take pride in every tape job you do that doesn't have a wrinkle.
You learn each characteristic of your athletes, you become comfortable in your environment, and you learn the ins and outs of the sport. It then is time to change your sport, and you become a small fish in an ocean, having to learn a new routine and new reaction to specific scenarios.
Let's not forget that after a day of workouts, classes, and practice, you have to be a regular college student. You have homework and quizzes to do, some due by midnight that night. The expression "the library will be your best friend" isn't taken lightly and neither is caffeine.
You either stay up until three in the morning doing homework and studying for the big exam or you go to sleep early and decide to wake up at three in the morning to study and do homework. You have this busy schedule for six out of the seven days, and on that seventh day you are either catching up on sleep, catching up on homework, or working because you will have student loans to pay off.
Being able to bounce and adapt becomes easier but the work does not. Studying becomes a habit, and there is nothing you don't want to learn because it all prepares you for the certification exam.
The people of your program become your greatest friends and allies, and your program directors become some of your biggest mentors.
The statistics of an average athletic trainer's salary show that we didn't pick this major because we wanted to have a large income. We may never know how to do surgery on a brain, and we may never nurse you in the hospital. But, some day we are going be the person who runs to your side when you roll your ankle.
We will be the ones to properly strap you on a spine board, the ones who will administer your concussion test, and the ones who will answer your message at two in the morning when your chest hurts. We will be the ones who you won't like for making you come to a 6:00 a.m. treatment, you'll love when we have you back on a field or court within a week, and who you will tell your life and problems to because our ears are always open.
We will be athletic trainers, but for now, we are athletic training students learning how to and what to do to protect and help our future athletes' lives.