Sports Medicine and Athletic Training

Photo by  Jonathan Chng  on  Unsplash

March is National Athletic Training month and to celebrate I’d like to spread some awareness about the athletic training profession. Certified athletic trainers are everywhere: professional and collegiate sports, secondary schools, industrial settings, and physicians’ offices.

But what is an athletic trainer? An athletic trainer provides compassionate care for all levels of activity through emergency management, education, and rehabilitation. In order to become an athletic trainer, one must obtain a college degree and pass the national Board of Certification exam. What makes athletic trainers different from personal trainers is that an athletic trainer must be nationally certified and, in most states, maintain licensure in order to practice. While athletic trainers do teach and supervise exercises, that is far from all that we do! In any given day, an athletic trainer may provide first aid, oversee a rehabilitation program, communicate with other sports medicine professionals regarding a patient, and coordinate an emergency response to an accident.

Athletic trainers also serve as a connector, almost like switchboard operator, to guide patients towards the best care possible.  As a member of a sports medicine team, athletic trainers have access and connection to specialists in many disciplines. Sports medicine teams consist of physicians, physical therapists, sports psychologists, dietitians, and strength and conditioning coaches. Depending on the needs of the individual patient, their athletic trainer can assist in getting in touch with setting up appointments to see these specialists. For example, I work in a secondary school setting so when an athlete sustains an injury that warrants a follow up from a physician, I make the calls the necessary to set the athlete up with an appointment with the physician, specialist, rehabilitation, etc., best suited to treat them.

There is an incredible balance of science and servanthood that makes up the role of an athletic trainer. After having a visit with an orthopedic surgeon as well as physical therapy appointments I realized that sports medicine was the route that I wanted to take for my career. I knew growing up that I loved math and science and wanted to have a job that combined that with my love of sports and helping people. I love that I get to apply my knowledge to situations in order to help my athletes resolve their problems and get started on the road to recovery from their injuries.

Yes, we do tape ankles and pass out water bottles, but athletic trainers are more than just a “water-girl” on the sideline. The next time you are at a sporting event and see and athletic trainer, say hello and introduce yourself; the more connections an athletic trainer can make the better and I know personally, I enjoy getting to interact with the community as part of my job.

For more information on the athletic training profession, please visit

Happy National Athletic Training Month!

Sarah is a cradle Catholic, certified athletic trainer, and proud Purdue alum. During her time at Purdue, she ran her first 5k with a friend and got hooked on running. She currently lives near Louisville and enjoys the variety of road races in the Kentuckiana area, her favorite being the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (hello, free bourbon!). When she isn’t busy covering high school games or training for her next race, she teaches the confirmation class at her church and adds new adventures to her to-do list.