WINONA, Minnesota (WXOW) - Athletes get a lot of attention for their hard work and dedication. But behind each athlete there is an equally dedicated athletic trainer working behind the scene to keep players on the field and doing what they love.
"A certified athletic trainer is the person that you want on the sideline with your son or daughter," said Shellie Nelson, Program Director of Athletic Training and Education at Winona State University. "If they're injured at an athletic event that person is the most qualified person to handle active individuals, individuals that are participating in sports."
And this week, while many students are enjoying the summer, athletic training majors at Winona State University are hard at work. Every summer, they meet before athletes return to campus to learn new techniques and practice emergency scenarios.
"The reality with athletic training it's always constantly changing techniques," said Christopher Ibach, Athletic Training Major at Winona State University. "And so being able to come back every single summer and then learn those new techniques, have those presented to us and then we can practice them, just gives you a lot more confidence."
The mock scenarios require students to deal with athletes in different locations, wearing different equipment, and with different injuries.
"It's sort of an environment where you really have to adapt," said Ibach. "Everything's not the same every single day."
During the school year, these students will be working side by side with certified athletic trainers in clinical settings and on the field. This hands-on training is critical for students' ability to respond quickly and appropriately to any emergency situation.
"You're able to practice something that you're not going to always be able to do," said Ibach. "And again, having that confidence that you know, you've practiced that, and you feel comfortable in those situations when it's high pressure, when it's an actual situation."
Besides allowing students to brush up on their skills, the mock training is also designed to teach compassion. Students take turns acting as the injured athlete so they can relate to what people are going through when they are injured on the field.
"You have to practice, you have to have this [training] so it's habit," said Nelson. "And so when an emergency does happen, you know what to do, you're systematic, and you're able to provide that care."
After the training, students will take a national certification examination. This certification allows them to start working in entry level athletic training positions.
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