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As an athletic training student at Eastern, I have had the opportunity to spend clinical rotations working with Division I athletes. These teams included Villanova University’s football and Saint Joseph University’s field hockey and men’s basketball teams.

The most delightful aspect of working with Division I athletes is the ability to treat them the way I believe will be the most effective.

These athletes, for the most part, work beyond just loving the game. In every conversation we have, a running theme is the desire to achieve.

The freedom of communicating directly with team physicians provides a sense of security that not every athletic trainer gets the chance to experience. In a Division I collegiate setting, the athletes are seen by specialists or physicians with whom you can form a relationship. You trust them and their opinions. I have been able to discuss treatments that have developed my learning abilities. Forming relationships with these physicians allows me to build a network that I can depend on for my future.

Many look at Division I athletes and come to the conclusion that they have it all, but it’s not until you see beyond the player on the court that you realize the struggles they face. Success on the field or court may seem simple, but every day these players work hard to become the competitor they dream of being.

Treating and rehabilitating athletes in a Division I setting allows me to see a greater joy in the long days, short nights and no-weekends college life. As I work alongside athletes struggling to return to competition, I feel a sense of pride as they run into the end zone, score the winning goal or raise the energy level in the stadium because of an “alley-oop” dunk. Even though much is sacrificed to work in such a demanding setting, there is always the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the season when the athletes recognize what you did for them.

Keeping track of my studies, my personal life and the hours I am required to spend at these clinical rotations has been a struggle throughout the years and I have not perfected the balance by any means. Sometimes I have to sit back and remind myself why I am doing this and, without fail, I decide that I would not change a thing. I did not make a mistake when I chose a career in athletic training. I’m reminded of that every time I receive high fives from the players as they run out of the locker room and when they trust me with their questions.

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