Women strive for equal footing as sports trainers

Vince Peluso

KSU worker says breaking in can be ‘rough for females’

Lisa Wilson and Kristin Holliday are senior athletic training majors. “Everyone that I worked with has been very accepting of a female trainer,” Holliday said. CAITLIN SIRSE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Women have struggled to gain equal footing in the athletic training field in the past, said Cary Hale, athletic training education program coordinator. But as more women take up the profession, that is quickly changing.

Hale said women have struggled to gain equal footing in the past.

“I’ve been with coaches that didn’t want women,” she said. “They didn’t think the language being said in the locker room or on the field would be appropriate for women. It’s better than it was, but when I first started it was very rough for females.”

Ashley Wagner, sophomore athletic training major, has worked with both the Kent State football and men’s basketball teams over the past year.

She said her goal is to get a job with a professional team but says, as a woman, that goal may be especially challenging.

“I’d like to get in with a professional team,” she said. “But it can be very difficult for a woman to get a job with a pro team. But I have a great background and excellent training here with Kent, and I’m confident I can find something.”

Hale said coaches may have other problems with female trainers beyond concerns about inappropriate language.

“Some athletes have concerns with a 5-foot-4, 100-pound woman having to try to carry a football player off the field,” she said. “There was a persona that a woman wouldn’t be able to manipulate a part of the body to find an injury or handle a bigger athlete.”

She also said coaches worry female trainers will be unable to diagnose injuries.

“A lot of coaches worried about a mothering technique that a female might provide,” she said. “Also because they have different body types, some male athletes don’t think a woman can understand or diagnose a male injury.

“But a lot of these things are going by the way-side as more female trainers are entering male sports.”

Kristin Holliday, senior athletic training major, said she has never had a problem working alongside male athletes at Kent State. She currently is assigned to work with the gymnastics team.

“It hasn’t been too bad,” she said. “Everyone that I’ve worked with has been very accepting of a female trainer. I grew up with an older brother, so there’s not much that I would get offended by.”

Hale said teams sometimes must make adjustments to hire a female trainer.

“Some of the sports that don’t hire females purely have financial concerns,” she said. “Look at a minor league baseball team. You need an extra room for a person of the opposite gender. Whereas if you hire a male he can room with another male on the road, but if it’s a female you need a different room.”

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Vince Peluso at [email protected].