Students gain experience from athletic training

Nate Ulrich

Ashley Cappello, a student athletic trainer, tapes the ankle of Rachel Bennett, a freshman psychology major and a guard for the women’s basketball team yesterday in the M.A.C. Center training room. Cappello is working with the women’s basketball team this

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

She hears the point guard calling plays, she sees coaches glaring at referees and she smells the sweat.

Sitting on the end of Kent State women’s basketball bench is all part of a class that gives Ashley Cappello an up-close view of all the action.

“You can hear pretty much everything from the TV crew working to the coaches talking about strategy and the players trying to pump each other up,” Cappello said. “You can see the emotions on the players’ faces.”

Cappello is a junior in the athletic training education program in the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport. She is in the professional phase, which allows her to gain hands-on experience working with athletes under the supervision of certified athletic trainers, said Kim Peer, the program coordinator of athletic training education.

“We always teach that athletic training is an art and a science,” Peer said. “That field experience they gain is absolutely invaluable.”

Cappello works with the women’s basketball team under assistant athletic trainer Michael Heichel. Her responsibilities include taping athletes, instructing stretches and writing injury reports and rehab plans, Heichel said.

Assistant athletic trainer Trent Stratton said Joe Hoskins, student athletic trainer for the men’s basketball team, and Cappello have a great opportunity to gain knowledge this season.

“I think the best way for them to learn is being in the training room, at practice or being able to travel with the team,” Stratton said. “I think they gain an understanding of our commitment and the time that we put in.”

Cappello said being at every game, practice, weightlifting session and treatment session gives her an appreciation for the amount of work that goes with the profession.

“I was definitely overwhelmed at the beginning of this semester,” Cappello said. “You just have to get your priorities intact and get a schedule down.”

Athletic training students learn how to make important decisions on the go.

“If somebody would go down in practice, the student would watch to see what is done to take care of the injury,” Heichel said. “It’s a never ending learning process. Maybe I thought I could have done something different, and I can discuss it with the student.”

Stratton, who alternates with Heichel every season as an athletic trainer for football, said students learn to respond to a full spectrum of injuries – from minor to life threatening.

“This (football season) we had a head and neck injury, and it had to be stabilized,” Stratton said. “No students were on the field, but they gained experience from the exposure. Afterward, we pulled our students aside and asked them what they saw from the sidelines and what they would have done differently.”

The athletic training program includes field experiences off campus such as working at high schools and other clinical sites, Peer said. They are required to observe orthopedic surgery and work at a general medical office.

“It’s a lot different working on campus than working at a high school,” Oravetz said. “It really shows how much psychology is a part of it.”

Junior Misty Demland said her knowledge and skills were tested when she was the athletic training student at Springfield High School.

“I had more responsibilities like addressing the initial injury,” Demland said. “Being responsible for the first response helps with what we learn in class.”

Peer said these students get a unique opportunity to translate classroom material into a real work environment.

“They can read in a book ‘when you have a down athlete this is what you do,'” Peer said, “but it makes all the difference when you go through the experience with a certified athletic trainer.”

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