Shawnda Ebert started her career in rehabilitation with raptors, but for the past seven years, she’s been rehabilitating the Frankfort Panthers. Through a grant funded by the Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Ebert has served as the athletic trainer for Frankfort Middle and High schools since the fall of 2008.
Her love of rehabilitating the injured began in high school in Somerset where she took part in a raptor rehabilitation program.
“I started rehabbing raptors before people,” she said.
During high school, Ebert also developed a love of sports. She played basketball and baseball, which she continued to play after high school at Berea College. There, she decided to combine her two loves and work toward a degree in sports medicine.
Aside from being an athletic trainer, Ebert serves as a chief in the United States Navy Reserves. She joined in December 2004, a few months after her husband Frankfort Police Lt. James Ebert joined.
Between her two jobs, Ebert doesn’t have much downtime. Her time spent outside of Frankfort High is spent doing drill and paperwork for the Navy, or serving in the color guard for funerals at the National Cemetery at Camp Nelson in Nicholasville, which she said is the greatest honor she can do to give back to those who served the country.
Before her life became so busy with two jobs, a marriage and her 5-year-old daughter Katarina, some of Ebert’s downtime was spent in Boscoreale, a small town in Naples, Italy, where her mother is from.
The following is a question-and-answering session Ebert participated in with The State Journal that delves deeper into her life.
SJ: What’s Italy like?
Ebert: It’s beautiful in the tourist areas, but it’s a hard way of life. Everything is done fresh. You go to the butcher to get your fresh meat. You go to the market every day to get fresh bread. You walk everywhere or hop on the train.
We take a lot of stuff for granted here — even in the health care system. I used to get irate on how they used to do things there. The doctor would walk into the ER with a cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other.
SJ: What does your family think about your career as an athletic trainer?
Ebert: In the beginning it was hard for them to understand what I did. A lot of people think I sit in the corner and get paid and not do anything. However, it’s a good day when I don’t have to do anything. When I truly have to work hard, that means someone’s kid got hurt. I prefer the days I don’t have to work, because that means I do not have to deal with blood, or concussions, or broken bones or ACL injuries that are ruining kids’ futures. So, I welcome those slow days.
SJ: What is a typical day like when you’re not dealing with horrible injuries?
Ebert: A typical game day — I come in, prep water for home and away sides, make sure ice is in the cooler and if needed, I help prep the gym.
A few students who recently had ACL surgeries come in and do rehab. It all depends on the season and what injuries we currently have.
I have a kid that just got off from a concussion and I run him through a concussion protocol. With all kids who have had a concussion, not only do they have to get cleared from an MD, but also they have to do a protocol that I pass them on before they can go back to practice. I have them jog or bike to start with.
Then I have them sprint or do push-ups or sit-ups to see if they start having headaches. If they do, then they’re not ready to return to playing.
There’s been too many concussion-related deaths this year. The day and age of our parents playing ball and getting their bells rung are gone.
Teenagers’ brains are still forming, so why damage it if you don’t have to? Our jobs as athletic trainers aren’t so much to look at the today, but to try and ensure that they have a tomorrow.
SJ: Why have you decided to stay at the high school level instead of college or pro sports?
Ebert: The deciding factor of not going to the college level is probably family. It’s hard to raise a child while you’re working at the upper levels. This is an awesome job, because (Katarina) gets to come with me to work.
She loves sports.
The football players are some of the best babysitters out there.
Also, at Frankfort, you know everyone.
I used to joke, my favorite athletes are the ones whose names I don’t know.
If I know your name, that means you’ve spent way too much time in here with me.
SJ: Do you have a favorite sport?
Ebert: I love basketball by nature, but to cover, I have to say football. I get to be part of the intensity — walking up and down the sidelines.
SJ: What is it you like about athletic training that’s kept you doing it for so long?
Ebert: It’s the love of the sports. Even if I’m at home, that one day a week I might have off, if I’m watching TV there’s some form of sports on. And my office for the most part of the year is outside. I’m not stuck behind a cubicle working. I get to go outside and have fresh air. Granted, sometimes it’s raining, or snowing or hot, but I’m outside. Not much better than that. Being outside and sports, that’s the best of both worlds.