The athletes of the University of North Dakota are in good hands with the athletic training staff who are working to provide them with care day-in and day-out.
From the outside looking in, people realize there is a high risk of injury in college sports. It’s easy to look on the sidelines during a football game and see the large number of players in casts or on crutches instead of being suited up. What some people don’t realize is that probably at least a quarter of the football team is receiving treatment of some kind from the university’s athletic trainers, this is what goes unnoticed.
During the typical day of a trainer, they see a variety athletes. The athletic trainers at the University of North Dakota have their home base in the Hyslop Sports Center, but there are trainers assigned to each sport. There is at least one certified athletic trainer per sport, but based on the size of the team, the number of student trainers that work with that sport varies. When they are assigned to a sport they attend those practices, weight lifting sessions, games and travel with the team on the road.
The training room in the Hyslop is run by Sara Bjerke. Bjerke is an instructor as well as an athletic trainer at UND. Under her, there are two graduate assistants and about 30 undergraduate students also working to help the injured athletes.
The UND Department of Sports Medicine was founded in 1990. Since then, UND has offered a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training degree. UND was the first university in the nation to have an athletic training program placed directly in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences rather than the College of Arts and Sciences.
After completing the undergraduate degree, students are able to take the National Athletic Trainer’s Association Board of Certification exam to be qualified as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
Blair Roemmich, a junior at UND, is currently on track to obtain his undergraduate degree in athletic training and plans to pursue a graduate degree in physical therapy following graduation.
Before being accepted into the program, students must complete 100 hours of observation, fill out an application and have a minimum GPA of 2.75. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Although it is a rigorous program, it is rewarding.
“I decided to go into athletic training because it was an opportunity to work with and help individuals come back from injuries. I’ve always been intrigued by the health field and athletic training was great combination of health, medicine and sports.” ”
— Blair Roemmich, Junior at UND
Roemmich said. “I’ve always been intrigued by the health field and athletic training was a great combination of health, medicine and sports.”
The athletic trainers offer assistance with anything from recovery to strengthening to rehabilitation programs.
Right in line with the post-graduate plans of Roemmich, the athletic training department at UND works in line with a group of certified physical therapists. For more advanced cases, specifically post-surgery, the UND Center for Sports Medicine has physical therapists stationed in the Hyslop. Physical therapy is run by Cathy Ziegler and S. Jake Thompson, both of whom are certified physical therapists and athletic trainers.
The team that works in the Hyslop comes together to make sure the athletes are able to perform to the best of their ability. Although it isn’t the easiest route, for the students and graduates in the program, the athlete’s success is a constant reminder why they go through the schooling and training that they do.
“My favorite part is seeing all the different athletes that come in and getting to work with them as well as other athletic training staff and medical personnel to get them healthy as fast as possible,” Roemmich said.