Daniel Francis said he always had an interest in human anatomy, physiology, and “how it all works together.”
That interest led him to Henderson State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and a Master of Science in sport administration.
Today, Francis is a staff athletic trainer at Henderson where he is responsible for the day-to-day evaluation, treatment, and prevention of athletic injuries, primarily for men’s and women’s basketball.
“At first, I didn’t know about the profession of athletic training, so my original career goal was to become a physical therapist,” Francis said. “I have always been involved in athletics and fitness, and as a result dealt with some injuries. I met John Miller, Henderson’s athletic training education program director, when I was in high school.
“It was at that time that I learned about the profession of athletic training. When I got to college, I talked to him about athletic training. After taking a few classes, I fell in love with it since it is a combination of physical therapy and athletics.”
A native of Gurdon, Francis “grew up” only 15 minutes from the Henderson campus.
“I knew a lot of people who graduated from Henderson,” he said. “I always wanted to be a Reddie.”
Francis attended Henderson from 2007 to 2013 as he pursued his degrees. He was a member of the Reddie golf team, and participated in various campus organizations and activities. He worked as an athletic trainer at Ouachita Baptist University before returning to Henderson.
Francis said he enjoys working with the athletes.
“It’s so satisfying to see athletes compete and be successful at their sport, especially those who have had an injury and I am able to help them come back from that injury,” he said.
Francis has high praise for Henderson’s health programs.
“They are great at preparing students, regardless if it is for athletic training, physical therapy, exercise science, or to be a physical education teacher,” he said. “The professors and instructors are very knowledgeable and go out of their way to prepare you for the future.”
Francis said his degree has led to many friendships and opportunities.
“I have come in contact with a lot of great people and have developed lasting friendships with those individuals,” he said. “It has also allowed me to pursue opportunities and jobs in athletic training at the high school, college, and professional levels.
“Health profession opportunities, regardless if its athletic training, personal training, physical therapy, coaching, or physical education, are growing every day. Henderson’s health programs do a great job of preparing individuals to be successful.”
Henderson’s athletic training degree was recently changed to health and human performance (HHP), which provides a general pre-professional curriculum preparing students for health-related graduate programs.
HHP majors can focus on athletic training, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or strength and conditioning. They can then pursue post-graduate professional schools in these areas.