Article reposted from MidAmerica Nazarene University
Author: Shari Flanagan
The thing about team sports is that there is a lot going on; anything from blocking and batting to running plays and scoring. It takes planning, practice and hard work. Everyone has their place and when everyone is doing their best, the magic happens. The same is true for MNU’s athletic training program. There is a lot going on. MNU is one of the few universities in the area to offer a program allowing students to play a varsity sport while taking classes in the athletic training program.
One of the elements that make a team work well is having good relationships. Chris Crawford, director of MNU’s athletic training program and assistant professor, says he likes being able to develop relationships with his students. Class sizes around 25 instead allow him the chance to know his students, develop a relationship and relate to them as individuals. He creates an environment of teamwork and family, resulting in well-trained, hardworking student leaders. In fact, Crawford’s young daughter refers to them as his “big kids”.
The students aren’t the only ones, who work hard. On top of his duties at MNU, Crawford is continuing his education toward earning a doctorate, and has developed a unique relationship with the Paralympics Swimming Committee. As the director of their swim team’s medical program, he currently is serving with them at the Paralympics Games in Rio, Sept. 7-18.
Back in Kansas City, the quality of education MNU provides does not go unnoticed. The Kansas City Chiefs utilize internship opportunities with students studying in MNU’s athletic training program. Crawford wants to make it clear that his students earned these opportunities; “Yes, it’s a great that we have a connection with the Chiefs, but it’s the quality of the students that make it possible. Our students work for their internships.”
One of those interns, Alec Stahly (’16), graduated with a dual major in athletic training and kinesiology. He was drawn to MNU for multiple reasons. He wanted to continue his baseball career, while enrolled in MNU’s athletic training program.
“I wanted to go to a university where I could express my faith freely and study the things that I was passionate about,” says Alec. What he found at MNU were professors who taught him the proper way to do his job and mentors, friends and coworkers who helped him grow personally, professionally and spiritually.
Sam Riggs, senior athletic training major, from Raymore, Missouri, also interned for the Kansas City Chiefs during their recent training camp. Sam’s research uncovered only two other colleges in the Kansas City area with an athletic training program like MNU’s. He plans to complete his degree this December.
As a member of the NAIA, MNU’s athletic training students engage in hands-on learning with certified staff members early in their programs. The education along with the real-world experience complement each other.
As Sam puts it, “MNU gives me that small school experience where I have opportunity for hands-on learning. With the Chiefs, I get to experience being on one of the biggest stages in the world and watch the behind-the-scenes operation of a large organization.”
The level of intensity of MNU’s athletic training program more than matches its rewards. Offering unique opportunities that combine individual hard work with synergistic teamwork results in top notch education and lasting personal and professional relationships.