Athletic training helps students, athletes
University kinesiology students now can earn a degree in athletic training and the benefits of the major are spreading beyond McPhee.
“We’ve been able to do a lot of things in the community,” said Jeff Oliphant, assistant kinesiology professor.
Athletic training students not only work with university athletes but also throughout the city, he said. This includes involvement at local high schools and volunteering for community events, such as the Special Olympics, youth football and baseball.
In addition, the kinesiology department will work with area clinics, said Mark Clark, dean of the College of Professional Studies. Through internships and paid assistantships, students and the clinics will benefit, he said.
“It’s not just for our students,” Clark said. “(The new major) serves the community as a whole.”
Junior athletic training major Tadd Turnquist agreed.
“I think the community appreciates it,” he said.
The Eau Claire athletic training program is collaborating with UW-Stout, Clark said. Stout isn’t seeking national accreditation, but Eau Claire will, he said.
The accreditation comes from the national governing body for trainers, which is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs, Oliphant said. The university is in its second year of the process. Next fall, on-site visitors from CAAHEP will come to campus and talk to those involved in the program, he said. A lot goes into getting accreditation, and CAAHEP will look at educational competencies, courses and the number of personnel involved in the program.
Before the athletic training major was offered, students who wanted to become trainers had to go about it one of two ways, Oliphant said. They either could go the internship route and graduate with a major related to athletic training, or they could enter a curriculum program with a major in athletic training. For years, UW-La Crosse was the only school in the state that offered accreditation, he said.
That all changed, however, when the National Athletic Training Association decided that beginning Jan. 1, 2004, internships will not count toward the major. Students will have to graduate from an accredited school, Oliphant said.
“(The new requirements) really gave the program a boost,” he said, adding that the idea for converting the program to a major was discussed for some time.
During a year when budget cuts are putting the squeeze on many university department budgets, Clark said the major doesn’t contribute to financial strain.
“There was no new money that came from Regents for the program,” he said. “It’s been very smooth sailing. It’s a good investment for our resources in a time that’s down fiscally.”
“(Money) isn’t a problem at the time,” he said, adding that staffing additions are the only major change. For nine years, Oliphant was the only athletic trainer, but now he spends more time teaching and working to get the accreditation for the program.
Andy Baker was hired as a head athletic trainer. Students also work in the athletic training office. Some work with Blugold teams. Turnquist, for example, works in the training room and with the women’s volleyball and cross country teams four nights a week. He does icing, helps with stretching and taping and is on the sidelines during games and meets, he said. He also helps with rehabilitation, such as for an athlete with a sprained ankle.
It’s helping athletes that Turnquist enjoys most.
“I like the amount of satisfaction I get from knowing how much athletes appreciate what I’m doing,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going.”