Athletic trainers play an important role in every collegiate sports team. They are the ones who get athletes back on the field as fast as possible, but also as safe as possible. Don “Doc” Haworth, Jen Bergstein, and Jess Dautner, are the athletic trainers at Farmingdale State College, caring for every athlete who walks through their door.
Jen Bergstein and Jess Dautner decided to enter the athletic training field for similar reasons, both growing up as athletes and surrounded by sports. Jess, a Farmingdale State Softball Alumni, was injured at one point in her athletic career and personally experienced what it was like to get treatment from an athletic trainer. She was very shortly inspired and decided she wanted to follow a similar path. Jen interned with her athletic trainer in high school and found her passion for sports medicine early on.
I asked the athletic trainers what the most rewarding part of their job is. Doc informed me that, “I just enjoy being around the college athletes. They keep me young.” Jess answered, “It’s most rewarding when our teams win championships. If our teams succeed then we feel like we succeeded also because we know we provided them with top priority care.” Jen gave insight on a once severely injured athlete. “We worked with him everyday and he ended up getting a grand slam in the first inning of the championship game. We felt proud that our hard work and effort of rehabbing him paid off.”
I asked Jen and Jess what they need to do for the injured athletes in preparation for games and also post game. Together they said, “Most athletes know about getting physical therapy, coming in for treatment, and getting taped before practices and games. What they don’t know is the side work we do in the office.” They said there are massive amounts of documentation for every injury. They are responsible for rehabilitation plans and injury evaluations, as well as budgeting, ordering equipment, and keeping themselves educated by attending meetings to keep their certifications. There is a lot more that the athletic trainers are responsible for that most of the athletes never see.
While Jen and Jess are both former athletes, I asked them if they would rather go back to being athletes and playing on a team again, or are they satisfied where they are now, treating athletes. Jess said, “We feel like we are on these teams so it’s the best of both worlds for us right now.” Jen added in, “We’re here for the highs and lows of each team and also individual players, so we feel like we’re all one team.” Getting to know the athletes on a personal level, they feel their pain, losses, success, and wins. As a word of advice to the athletes, Jen said, “Enjoy the time you have while you’re here. Being a student-athlete is hard to balance but it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you. I’d give anything to be on a sports team again. Always enjoy the ride.”