Article reposted from Post Independent
Author: Savannah Kelley
The new year brings a major change for a Glenwood Springs native. In January, Cody Derby, a 2012 Glenwood Springs High School graduate, begins working for the Detroit Tigers as the baseball franchise’s minor league assistant athletic trainer.
Derby’s pursuit of athletic training began in high school, when he was advised to end his football career during his sophomore year after a string of concussions. At the time, Derby was a three-sport athlete, playing basketball, baseball and football. When he couldn’t play football anymore, he stayed involved in the football program by accepting an offer from the GSHS Head Certified Athletic Trainer Marni Barton.
“I offered some student training to him and he immediately said, ‘Absolutely,’ ” Barton said. “That’s where I think it all really began.”
Although Derby already had some interest in an athletic training career, his experiences during his junior and senior years drove home his decision to pursue his passion in helping athletes.
“The concussions were really an eye opener, ” Derby said. “I didn’t know what to do. Thank God I had Marni here, she did so much for me. I think that having Marni here during that really drove what I wanted to do.”
After graduating from high school, Derby continued his education in Kansas at Ottawa University, where he played baseball.
“I had to decide if I really wanted to focus on athletic training,” Derby said. “Doing them both at the same time was pretty difficult, so I chose to go with my profession.”
Derby transferred to Kansas State University his sophomore year to continue his major in athletic training and minor in kinesiology. At the university, Derby had opportunities to work with players from football, baseball, cheer and women’s rowing, but he continued to find his passion on a baseball diamond.
“Going into my senior year, the athletic training program director had some connections in baseball,” Derby said. “He reached out to some preceptors [teachers] and asked who was interested in baseball and I hit the gun. I said that’s absolutely me.”
Soon after, Derby landed an internship working with the Atlanta Braves.
“At that time I had no idea what to expect,” Derby said. “I had no idea who to talk to or how to go about it, but I said that I definitely wanted to pursue that.”
After interning during spring training and the summer of his senior year, Derby graduated in 2016 and decided on graduate school. He attended Missouri Western, working with the volleyball and baseball teams while getting his master’s degree.
The Braves referred Derby to the Detroit Tigers shortly after his internship. He interviewed with the Tigers, as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I wasn’t really seeking a job at the time,” Derby said. “But the connection was really between the Braves and the Tigers. Having both those teams reach out to me was pretty cool and I decided that if I’m going to take it, I needed to take it now.”
Derby’s passion for his profession continues to grow.
“Every single day is a new day, and you never know what you’re going to get,” Derby said. “Seeing your athletes on a daily basis and developing those relationships is very unique. You see the athletes at their worst and you see them at their best, as well. During both of those times, you’re able to help them through illness, injury or whatever it is.”
GSHS varsity basketball Head Coach Cory Hitchcock coached Derby during his junior and senior years of high school. He says that athletic training serves as an important part of high school, college and professional sports teams.
“Athletic trainers are important because they take care of the overall athlete’s well-being,” Hitchcock said. “They provide the athlete an opportunity to perform even when they may be injured, sore or hurt. They’re also a key factor in rehabilitating the athletes.”
From his first years in athletic training, Derby showed promise in the profession.
“To be an athletic trainer, you have to be able to put up with a lot,” Barton said. “He’s very tolerant of things, but he’s also very intelligent. He’s not just book smart. He has great intuition, so he’s able to really think outside the box.”
Derby hopes to continue his experience in the athletic training field and work his way up to the major leagues.