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The Role of an Athletic Trainer

Jay O'Connor-

In the world of college sports, the average length of a season is only three to four months long, but athletic trainers have a year-round responsibility. This position is filled with unknown variables where serious injury could happen any given day to any given player.

Appalachian State University Women’s Soccer and Track and Field Athletic Trainer, Maggie Berkowitz, believes that constant preparation and planning ahead are key elements in preventing injury. When it comes to soccer, Berkowitz says that their program does a lot of “prehab” and preventative training programs, to help lower the risk of ACL injuries, ankle injuries and a few others as well that might occur more commonly in the sport. There is no offseason for Berkowitz since her teams’ train year-round.

“Our motto is ’9-for-3.’ We work hard on our nine months we’re offseason, so we can do well during our three that we’re in season,” Berkowitz said.

These offseason routines and workouts include strength training, weightlifting, running almost every day and sessions with the coaching staff that can last up to two hours at a time. This helps the team stay in playing shape all year long and be ready before the preseason starts.

Berkowitz already has her schedule and routines for her teams’ set, but not all athletic trainers can follow the same system that Berkowitz is. ASU Men’s Soccer Intern Athletic Trainer, Ben Shabb, believes different sports all have their own unique trends of injury.

“Maybe football has injuries that effect both upper and lower extremities, soccer is a lower extremity sport so in general these will be the more common injuries,” Shabb said. Other sports such as baseball and volleyball offer more strain to the shoulders and upper body, which causes injury trends in these sports to be in those regions of the body.

Shabb also experiences a full schedule as an App State athletic trainer. Shabb starts his day with his team’s practice, where he’ll perform any pre-practice treatments while making sure all his players are properly hydrated. He then provides any medical coverage for the training session and proceeds to help with rehab workouts for those who require it after any practice session. It is a continuous responsibility and he must be prepared for the worst at all times, despite the safety measures being taken.

“Stretch, nobody stretches,” Berkowitz said when explaining the best way to prevent injury. She also emphasizes the importance of a good diet.

“Stretch and eat well, take care of your body. It hurts for a reason,” Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz and Shabb both have sports backgrounds and grew up in the community of sports. This is what led them to the field of athletic training. A team is a family from those on the practice squad to every member of the coaching staff.

“I really like working with this population. We have a pretty athletic, youth population and I think I really enjoy that. This is what drew me to athletic training,” Shabb said.

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