Athletic Training Olympics and Health Professions Day
By: Kemba Noel-London MAT, ATC, CES
Athletic Training Olympics is a fun athletic training-based field day which is the way we wrap up AT Clubs at the end of the semester. SLU has sponsored the AT Clubs with the St. Louis Public Schools, through grant funding from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee, for the past 5 years.
I was introduced to this concept on an AT Olympics during my last clinical rotation when I was a SLU AT student, at Webster Groves High School from my then clinical preceptor and the legend Sean Wright ATC. I remember thoroughly enjoying myself and saw how much his students also enjoyed having an avenue to compete and show their skills. Since then, I have taken it to any school where I have been involved in sports medicine education. I find that it is an amazing way to facilitate and encourage teamwork, communication and healthy competition, while also allowing students to enjoy the skills that they worked hard to learn.
This year, with the introduction of an AT Club in a new Saint Louis Public School, we expanded the competition to be interscholastic rather than within the club. We wanted the students to take ownership and be protective over their clubs like any other team, with the long-term vision of the club being another avenue for them to represent their schools.
This year's event, which took place on May 3rd at SLU’s Medical Center Campus, were: ankle taping, a 40-yard cooler carry and AT trivia “obstacle” course, ice bag making and stacking, and the coup de grace; a first responder simulation (inclusive of log rolling, as the students notified me of how often they practiced this particular skill). The students at Clyde C Miller Career Academy took the first ever “Golden Fanny Pack” award when they won the day over Roosevelt High School.
Despite logistical challenges outside of our control, the kids had fun, and who knows, may be the start of a rivalry outside of sport. It is always a joy to create avenues for joy while also assessing the utility of our instructional methods for certain skills in the club. It is a good litmus test for how well we did that year and I look forward to it as much as the students.
Prior to the Olympics, we had a health professions day in the SLU Allied Health Building, which include a Skype presentation from St. Louis native Murphy Grant, MS, ATC, LAT, Associate Athletic Director at University of Kansas and President of the NATA Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine, who imparted words of wisdom and answered some probing questions.
They were also introduced to other health professions through a panel of faculty from the SLU Doisy College of Health Sciences and learned of the different pathways to achieve a degree in AT or other health professions. The key takeaway being, no path is the same. Whatever journey you take, do not lose sight of your goal, and see lack of representation is an opportunity not a barrier.
Special shout out to SLU PY1 AT student Marissa Burch (MAT Class of 2020), who volunteered her time this semester to assist with the clubs. She came to each meeting ready and willing to assist and made the most of the opportunities that were presented to her.