Washburn University sports teams have won conference championships, regional titles and even national championships. The athletes get their pictures in the paper and interviews on the evening news. But it’s the student athletic trainers who keep those athletes able to perform.
More than 20 students are in the athletic training program. They work in the athletic training room in Petro Allied Health Center anywhere from 12 to 20 hours every week. They also attend the practices of their assigned sports and attend home and away games for those sports.
“Washburn students don’t see the incredible amount of hours of work that the students put in,” said Steve Ice, Washburn University head athletic trainer. “They don’t understand that we’re working every Saturday or that we work on Sundays.”
Some of the student trainers even work through the university holidays. They work at basketball tournaments over Thanksgiving holiday and at basketball practices and games while other students on campus go home for winter break.
“We’re always there before the athletes get there and most of time we’re there after they leave,” said Kyle Montgomery, senior athletic training major.
These students don’t put up with the long hours and little recognition for nothing. They have found professional advantages in putting in the time that they do.
“There are not too many majors that can say that they spent two years in school doing what they will do outside of school. In the end it’s definitely worth it from all the experience I’ve gotten,” said Liz Kahnt, senior athletic training major.
Montgomery and Kahnt were present this season when a Washburn football player was injured during an away game. They both were involved in the assessment of the athlete’s injury and helped to move the player to a spine board.
The student trainers look for what they can do to help as the faculty trainers take charge of the situation. When faced with a stressful situation like putting an athlete with a possible head or neck injury, onto a spine board Kahnt focuses on everything that she’s been taught in class.
“You just think, ‘let’s not do anything to make it worse or put him in more pain,'” said Montgomery.
There’s also a personal reward involved in the sacrifice of time that these students make for their major. They get to work hands-on with Washburn athletes and treat the injuries that prevent some athletes from participating in their sport.
“When you see their progress, it definitely makes you feel good about helping them out and getting them back on their feet and ready to play again,” said Kahnt.
All of the hard work the faculty and students have put in to the program has recently paid off. The athletic training program received accreditation in 2004 from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Because of this accreditation, students interested in the program must complete a formal application process in order to be accepted.
“I had to have kids educated to help me,” said Ice. “As they became better and stronger, the program became better and stronger.”