Head athletic trainer paves way for future position-holders
by Thor Thompson
When Andrea Scott started at MSUM she came to school like a lot of incoming freshman, not knowing what she wanted to do for her career.
It wasn’t until after she suffered an injury during her softball season that her calling became clear: She wanted to be an athletic trainer.
“The following fall [after the injury], that’s when I got started in the athletic training program, and I mean I was hooked,” said Scott.
With little prior knowledge of the people that were helping her rehab through her own injury, Scott immediately knew that she was meant to be an athletic trainer.
Her experience of being a student-athlete and coming back from injury helps her understand what today’s athletes at MSUM are going through.
“It’s helpful to know what it feels like to have an ultrasound, what it feels like to have electrical muscle stim, what it feels like to be injured, and what it feels like emotionally and mentally to have to not play your sport, but to have to come in every day and see the other people who do and try to get back to that,” Scott said. “Not everybody has that experience.”
Putting that experience to good use, Scott was involved in the development of the athletic training program at MSUM.
Scott, fellow athletic trainer Keith Wiedrich, and her mentor Sam Booth wrote the curriculum for the program.
“So we were on the ground floor of writing the curriculum and now we’re both preceptors for that program, so we supervise athletic training students,” Scott said.
A preceptor is a certified athletic trainer who takes students from learning the techniques for taping, performing ultrasounds, and electrical muscle stimulation in the classroom to practicing these procedures in a clinical setting on student-athletes.
The hands-on experience is key in the learning process for these students, and although Scott no longer has the time to balance multiple sports schedules and a classroom curriculum, she still is involved in her students’ and student-athletes’ daily lives.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the last 26 years is that not everybody can be treated the same,” Scott said. “So it’s important for me to learn the different personalities of the student-athletes that I work with every day.”
Along with personalities, the athletic trainer is also charged with knowing individual athletes’ medical situations in order to help them, even outside of the athletic arena.
“I think the thing people don’t know is the real medical issues that we deal with every day,” she said.
From diabetes and epilepsy to looking out for possible signs of depression and eating disorders, the job of the athletic trainer is not just about the physical health, but also the mental and emotional health of the student athletes that they work with.
While it can also sometimes be a tough job telling a student that they have a season- or career -ending injury, the biggest reward for Scott comes through that same process.
“The most rewarding part definitely is being able to help somebody come back from an injury and see that they can be successful again and go back to doing what they love to do,” she said.
With so many teams and student-athletes to monitor and work with, the concept of teamwork is not lost on Scott either.
Three full-time assistants help Scott maintain and oversee roughly 300 student athletes. With each one bringing something to the table, the athletic trainers have to rely on each other at every turn.
“I have amazing co-workers, and we complement each other,” Scott said. “You could never do it alone.”
A hectic and demanding schedule doesn’t always sound like the best idea for a career, but to Scott and others in her field, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.
“Athletic trainers, by and large, we really love what we do,” Scott said. “It’s a passion. I basically grew up here, you know, I spent truly my whole adult life at MSUM, so it’s been pretty spectacular.”