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Standing Your Ground With Difficult Coaches


Things were different with athletic training education back when I was in college at University of Delaware. Back then, as a freshman, you did observation hours and applied to the athletic training program as a sophomore. Then during your sophomore and junior years you worked under a senior and certified AT with a different sport each season and if you were lucky you got to travel with your team. As a senior athletic trainer, you had 2 sports for their entire seasons and you basically oversaw the medical care, did all evaluations, treatments, referrals and under the direction of the certified, you made all the decisions for your team. Unless you were working with a large or highly visible team, (football, basketball, lacrosse and baseball) you even traveled solo. There was lots of pressure and responsibility placed on us un-certified undergrads back then. It prepared me for my first job when I graduated.

When I was a senior, there was one coach who had a reputation of making student athletic trainers cry. She prided herself on this and her toughness as a coach and in retrospect, I think our program directors never interfered because they wanted the students to experience working with a difficult coach.

Back to this difficult coach. I had one athlete who was rehabbing an ankle sprain. It was taking a long time and the coach was getting very frustrated. The athletes were intimidated by the coach too and they rarely spoke up to her. So I wasn’t exactly surprised one day when I got out to the field to find this injured athlete running drills she was not supposed to be doing. I approached the coach and said, “Hey coach, uh she’s not cleared to do these drills yet.” The coach BLEW UP on me demanding answers about why it was taking this long and when would she be ready and pointed to the athlete saying, “she looks fine out there.” She kept going, yelling in my face for what seemed like forever until finally she paused to say: “What? Are you going to cry now?” This last question blew me away. It was as if she was trying to add me to her list of "Student AT Cry-Babies" of the past and truthfully, I almost did cry! Instead I muscled up, took a deep breath, held back the tears and said I’d check with the certified AT and walked away.

How we feel around some coaches and parent