Athletic Training Student

King’s College Student to intern with NFL’s Chiefs


Article reposted from The Citizens Voice

A first impression may have never meant more to Greg Janik than when he met Andres Armstrong.

Janik, the head athletic trainer at King’s, clearly remembers Armstrong walking up to him almost four years ago during the Monarchs’ football preseason.

Armstrong, who was hoping to major in athletic training, was told to introduce himself to Janik when he got to King’s. He shook Janik’s hand, looked him in the eye and said he heard Janik would give him the best chance to succeed in college.

“I remember that vividly because most students do not look you in the eye and shake your hand as a freshman,” Janik said. “He was a mature young man.”

Even as grades fluctuated and Armstrong would have otherwise blended in with the crowd in the classroom, Janik didn’t forget his first meeting with Armstrong, who played wide receiver for three seasons before moving to linebacker. Janik always felt that Armstrong had the potential to succeed — sometimes, he just might need an extra push.

Four years later, Armstrong is headed to the NFL — for his work off the field.

Armstrong’s dedication to athletic training, plus the support of those who believed in him, earned the soon-to-be graduate a summer internship with the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a goal he set out for himself and potentially the first step in a successful athletic training career.

“It was probably one of the best feelings of my life,” Armstrong said. “My mom … always told me, ‘You’re going to be the first one out of this (immediate) family to graduate out of a four-year institution.’ Once I got this, it was like the icing on the cake.”

An injury in high school introduced Armstrong to the world of athletic training.

Armstrong grew up in Texas for several years before moving to Edgewood, Maryland, and attending Harford Technical. That’s when he got into football and, by his junior year, was ready to start at quarterback.

Just before the season opener, though, he sprained his ankle and landed on Kyle Mohr’s training table. Armstrong said he and his athletic trainer “were the best of friends for two weeks” from there, as he watched Mohr tape other players, evaluate injuries and show him his side of the sport.

“Ever since then, I’d shadow him as much as I could,” Armstrong said.

Before long, Armstrong grabbed the attention of King’s football — which just so happened to be where Mohr went to school and got to know Janik. Mohr pitched the program to Armstrong as he continued to teach him about the trade at Harford Technical. When Armstrong chose to attend King’s, Mohr told him to make sure he met Janik.

At the time, Armstrong said, Mohr was “like an older brother” to him. Without a father consistently in the household, his said his mother, Carmela Perez, always said “it takes a village to raise your child,” and Mohr took him under his wing through high school.

“When it did come to athletic training, he gave me as much knowledge as I could hold until I came (to King’s),” Armstrong said.

“The best advice he ever gave me was to walk up to Greg, shake his hand … and tell him I’m going to make an impact on this athletic training community,” he added.

That introduction between Armstrong and Janik went as well as it could. But, as almost every college student finds out, there are ups and downs inside the classroom.

All was fine in Armstrong’s freshman year. His mother, Perez, said he was always a good student — good grades were required to play sports in her household — and teachers and principals meet her just to say how well he was doing.

That translated into the first year at King’s, where he got by fine.

But in the years that followed, as classwork became more in-depth, “to say I struggled is an understatement,” Armstrong said. He struggled to grasp some classwork as students around him succeeded.

“I’m way too competitive to be complacent. So when I would catch myself being complacent, I would get angry at myself,” Armstrong recalled. Still, there were times he thought, “This is it; I’m going to be a five-year student.”

Luckily, those rough patches included one of Janik’s classes. Janik said his performance “didn’t sit (well) with me” based on their first meeting, but a turning point came last summer when he ran into Mohr.

The two athletic trainers discussed how Armstrong had high potential but just needed extra motivation. That potential was clearly on display when Armstrong’s case report on a unique injury was accepted for presentation at a state conference last year.

The case report — centered around a swimming injury — was also a top-three finalist at a regional conference. Armstrong said he was stopped and congratulated for his work at the conferences, which was eye-opening to him.

“So I knew this guy is obviously very smart,” Janik noted. “I just didn’t know if he cared as much as I wanted him to care.”

Those feelings were relayed to Armstrong, and — with a year remaining to make his mark at King’s — he flipped a switch. He learned of an opportunity to intern within the NFL and wanted to prove he deserved it.

“That was definitely a wake-up call for me,”Armstrong said. “Going into my senior year, I was doing as much as I could.”

In the summer, he went back to his high school to help out his old team.

Back at King’s in preseason, he assisted the athletic training staff without asking, Janik said. He showed up early, lent his expertise, taped players and then ran out to practice a little late.

Even now, he’s directing underclassmen and building a rapport with men’s lacrosse coaches as he comes down the homestretch at King’s.

“He made a great impression there that … he cares about the profession. In athletic training, to me, that’s what it’s all about,” Janik said. “It’s not how smart you are, it’s that you truly care about the patients that you treat. And Andres was demonstrating that at this point.”

With that in mind, Janik helped recommend Armstrong for one of the select NFL internships. He once interned himself with the Eagles, where he met Rick Burkholder, now the head athletic trainer for the Chiefs.

Janik told Burkholder about Armstrong’s passion for the profession. Burkholder asked for an application, Armstrong applied and, before long, he interviewed and got accepted into the program.

Armstrong made a bit of King’s history in doing so — he follows Lionel Rice (2011-14) as the second Monarchs football player to intern with an NFL team.

Armstrong announced the news at the football team’s banquet, where he received a standing ovation. First, though, he acknowledged those who helped him along the way.

He’s always had Perez there as a sounding board, always pushing him. Janik did the same at King’s, while Mohr helped him get started.

“If I didn’t have those three, I definitely know for a fact I’d be lost,” Armstrong said. “They’ve been my guiding light ever since they came into my life.”

570-821-2054, @CVEricShultz

Professional Sports

Rick Burkholder Hoping Tiffany Morton is Start of New NFL Trend


Article reposted from
Author: BJ Kissel

Tiffany Morton is one of only five full-time athletic trainers in the NFL who is female

After a work day that lasted almost 12 hours and began before the sun rose above the campus of Missouri Western State University—home of Kansas City Chiefs training camp—assistant athletic trainer Tiffany Morton walks into the campus cafeteria on this Sunday night knowing she’s going to have to sit and talk about herself for a while.

As Morton sits down at the round table just a few feet from a large group of staff members finishing up their dinner, it doesn’t take long to see that self-promotion isn’t near the top of her character traits.

She listens to the final few seconds of her mentor—head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder—talking about what has impressed him of her over the past few months, and she appears almost uncomfortable to hear such praise in this way.

Morton doesn’t want the attention of being the first full-time female athletic trainer in franchise history, or the fact that she’s one of only five full-time female athletic trainers in the NFL.

She’d rather just be known for her ability to take care of athletes—just like any other athletic trainer, but the truth is there’s a story here, and she’s right at the center of it.

Morton’s passion for athletic training is one that originated from, of all things, a personality test she took in college.

While attending Auburn University, Morton initially pursued the path of becoming a doctor and going to medical school—something she had dreamed about from the time she was in grade school.

After struggling through a chemistry class and subsequently losing that drive to pursue medical school, Morton’s career path took a turn thanks to a career counselor suggesting a personality test.

The test pointed her in the direction of athletic training.

It cultivates a similar passion in that she’s helping people through sports medicine, and now, years later and in less than five months as a full-time employee with the Chiefs, Morton has already impressed those around her.

“I think for starters, to be a woman and to be in a male-dominate atmosphere, she handles herself really well,” Jeremy Maclin, the franchise’s standout receiver, recently said. “I think as far as what goes on in the training room and her knowledge of the body and everything, she’s exceptional.

“If she doesn’t know something, she’s going to find out what it is and what she needs to do to help me get better.”

Morton has become Maclin’s “go-to” athletic trainer.

They have a routine before and after every practice or workout, which developed during her time as an intern.

It’s not unusual for players to have certain athletic trainers they develop these routines with, but a comment Maclin made last spring to Burkholder in front of Morton stayed with her.

They were going through their usual pre-workout routine one day and Burkholder came over to where they were working, and Maclin harmlessly said, “Rick, when are you going to hire her?”

It wasn’t said to put Burkholder on the spot, but rather, it was to show him how he felt about the work Morton had been doing.

There weren’t any spots open on the staff at that time, but the message resonated and stayed with Morton, who was mortified that Burkholder may have thought she put Maclin up to it. That wasn’t the case, but in her mind, she was validated that day.

“That alone was probably the biggest compliment from anybody so far,” Morton explained. “Having somebody that you work with take notice and appreciate what you’re doing—it was a huge point of validation.

“You have that moment. You take it in and you’re like, I’m doing something right. I have a lot to work on, but I’m doing something right.”

A few weeks later, when a spot did open up and Morton was hired, few in that locker room were as happy for her as Maclin.

“Of course I was happy, and I did say something to Rick (that day),” Maclin recalled. “You want that type of person on your staff, somebody to be here who is trying to perfect their craft, and I think she is definitely trying to do that.”

The search for perfection was instilled in Morton by her family, and most notably, by her father, who retired before she graduated high school after finishing 20 years of service in the Army.

Much like any other military family, there was constant change and the need to adapt.

Morton was born in Germany but then moved to Colorado, then back to Germany and Italy before coming back to Colorado again. She considers Colorado her home because that’s where she went to high school, but she doesn’t have any family or ties to the area.

Midway through Morton’s senior year of high school, her mom took a civilian job with the Air Force as an auditor, but the job was in Japan.

Another huge change, another opportunity to adapt.

Morton’s dad stayed with her in Colorado until she graduated, and then he left to join his wife in Japan.

Neither of Morton’s parents have lived in the continental United States since she graduated high school. They did spend some time living in Hawaii.

Two of her three brothers are in the military and have had deployments overseas, although they are back stateside now along with her other brother who currently lives in Florida.

Morton got her undergrad from Auburn University in exercise science because they didn’t have an athletic training program. She then went to Florida International University because they had an entry-level Master’s program that caught her eye, and she also happened to like Miami after visiting there a few times.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions she ever made.

Morton immediately began working as a student athletic trainer with the football program at FIU, and that’s when she knew football is where she wanted to be.

It didn’t take long for those around her to notice the drive and determination she had to be successful.

While at FIU, Morton attended an athletic training conference on concussions, and one of the keynote speakers that day was Burkholder.

After he finished speaking, Burkholder was approached—like he is oftentimes—by a student with some questions.

“I’m pretty good in those situations recognizing who is asking the right questions,” Burkholder explained of his first encounter with Morton. “How they handle themselves and all of that, and I know the two gals that run that curriculum and I asked them about [Morton] after our conversation because I was impressed, and they told me she was a star.”

That’s how Morton was put on the radar of one of the most prominent athletic trainers in the business. She asked the right questions.

Burkholder is the president of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS). Three of his former assistants and an intern are now head athletic trainers across the NFL.

Simply put, Burkholder is the right guy to know, and in this line of work, he’s is the right guy to work for.

Upon getting her Master’s degree from FIU, Morton still hadn’t yet cracked into the NFL despite putting out résumés and applying for a few different internships.

She accepted a job working at Southridge High School in Miami—a football powerhouse that has produced more than 15 NFL players.

“It was one of the best things for me to do,” Morton explained. “It created an independent atmosphere and allowed me to grow as an athletic trainer.”

When an internship opened up with the Minnesota Vikings last summer, it was her preceptors and colleagues back at FIU that pushed for Morton to be considered.

“They literally put themselves out on the line for me,” she explained. “They basically said, ‘You’re dumb if you don’t hire her.’

“It blew me way to get that kind of support.”

Morton got the summer internship with the Vikings under their head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, who happened to have spent six years with the Philadelphia Eagles (2000-06) under Burkholder as one of his assistants.

When Burkholder needed a seasonal intern, which is the second step of the three-step process he uses to hire his full-time athletic trainers, he called his old friend Sugarman, who had an intern in Morton he remembered from that conference back at FIU.

Burkholder says he likes to create a farm system. It starts with a summer internship, and then he hires two of them as yearlong seasonal interns, and the third and final step is a full-time position wherever there might be a spot—although not always with him.

He likes to have all three of those progressions be with the Chiefs, but Morton was an exception—she had been with a former assistant of his and he was looking for a talented female to join his staff.

“I wanted the best athletic trainer and I was hoping that it was a female because we’re trying to promote that in the National Football League,” he explained. “It’s an interesting time in athletic training. We have a lot of female athletic trainers, but not a lot in the NFL.

“So as president (of PFATS), I try to open those doors, but I’ve got to make the best hire possible. I can’t hire the one that fails. There’s no margin for error because everyone in our world is just waiting for one of them to screw up.”

While Morton didn’t expect it to necessarily lead to a full-time job when she accepted the seasonal position, she knew what this could do for her career.

“This was a big opportunity,” she explained. “I’m going there to learn from the best (in Burkholder), no matter what happens, I have the opportunity to learn from one of the best.”

Morton started her year-long seasonal internship right after the team’s second preseason game last August, and it wasn’t long after that conversation and validation from Maclin in front of Burkholder that she was given an opportunity to interview for an open position.

She met with head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey about the open position, and then just had to wait for the news, as she knew she was one of the two finalists.

Every time the door opened to the training room, Morton, who was still an intern at the time, thought that was the day Dorsey would come through the door and tell her she didn’t get the job.

That was until one day, when Dorsey walked into the training room and went straight into Burkholder’s office, and then a few minutes later, she heard his voice.

“’Intern, come in here,’” Morton recalled of what Dorsey had said. “I used to laugh at it because I remember the first time he called me that, I told myself I’m not going to say anything to him because one day he’s going to know my name.”

After the usual dialogue that takes place when anyone is being told whether or not they got a particular job, Morton was given the good news.

“Listen, I rarely have girly moments,” she laughed. “I rarely have them, but that was a total girly time. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ Are you serious?’ I probably said ‘Are you serious?’ five times.

“Then I did a jig. I said I’m so sorry, but I did a dance—a little twirl.”

During the interview process, Morton had blown away everyone. They were somewhat familiar with her because she had been there working as an intern, but they didn’t know just how well she carried herself until that point.

“From my standpoint, I got it,” Reid explained of bringing her on as a full-time athletic trainer. “[Burkholder] didn’t have to tell me twice. I knew what he wanted to do, and he did it.

“When I met with Tiffany, she’s sharp. She’s a sharp girl and she knows her stuff. She’s good with the players.”

There was a certain dynamic that had to be addressed with bringing in a female athletic trainer, and it’s one that Burkholder was not only aware of, but specifically looking for.

“She has been everything we’ve asked because she’s very intelligent,” Burkholder added. “We don’t treat her like a female. We treat her like an athletic trainer, and that’s what she wants.”

After meeting her at a conference years ago in Miami, the impression Morton made by asking the right questions stuck with Burkholder and helped lead her to a full-time position at the highest level of football in the world just a few years later.

Burkholder admits that he’s probably more worried about the dynamics and logistics of having a female around a male-dominated locker room and training room than Morton, but he’s been impressed with how easily she’s handled everything.

“She’s like, ‘Don’t keep me from doing a job just because I’m a female,’” Burkholder explained of Morton’s message back to him. “If I can’t do the job because I’m not a good athletic trainer, that’s one thing, but don’t do it because I’m a female.”

“She was not going to be segregated,” Burkholder added. “She just wants to take care of athletes. She wants to help get them better, and she’s very, very good at it. Now, she’s young and she’s growing, but she’s going to be a part of this Chiefs family for years to come.”

The transition to a full-time position has been easy for Morton.

“Nobody batted an eye,” she explained. “So quite honestly, it’s been great. The responsibilities picked up and other than that, I still grind and do my work and take care of the guys. Honestly, I don’t know how I’ve been so lucky to end up with a great team.”

That team right now is comprised of Burkholder and Morton, as well as full-time assistants Aaron Borgmann, David Glover and Evan Craft, along with the seven summer interns.

It’s a close-knit group, which is never more evident than during the down time after a practice or a workout in the training room.

“It’s almost like a big family time,” she explained. “Everybody’s working on somebody. The players aren’t necessarily injured but there’s just some bumps and bruises they want to get taken care of. There’s music playing. We’re all interacting with each other. It’s the culmination of all the hard work.

“It’s nice to see how we all function as a family. I hear of people trying to deal with divas or guys that don’t mesh well, and the Chiefs really don’t have that.”

While her focus is on doing the job to the best of her abilities and to continue learning from Burkholder and the other athletic trainers in the room, the magnitude of what she’s accomplished—while not often in the front of her mind—isn’t lost on her.

At a recent conference, Morton had a lady come up to her and express what it means to see her in this position—one of five female athletic trainers in the NFL.

“She’s like, ‘You have no idea what this means to us,’” Morton recalled of that conversation. “Honestly, I’m so busy trying to just be a good athletic trainer that I should remember sometimes that I’m a female in the NFL because a lot of females who wanted to work in the NFL 10 years ago, or even five years ago—they didn’t have the opportunity.

“Now with incoming females, I do want to be a good role model, but even more than that, I want to make sure they understand that you can still be you and work in the NFL.”

With more than 54 percent of the overall work force in the athletic training field being female, but less than one percent in the NFL right now, the trends are going to change over the next five to 10 years. Burkholder, Morton and company are working towards being a part of that change.

Morton’s long-term goal is to be a head athletic trainer somewhere, but for right now, she’s focused on the task at hand.

“My short-term goal this year is to prove they made the right decision to hire me.”

Due to the simple fact that there’s only five women in the world who could currently make that statement, the idea of Morton being somewhat of a pioneer is more realistic than she’d probably care to admit.

Although she would be the last to tell you that, which is why she was the perfect choice.


Kansas City Chiefs Hire First Female Athletic Trainer


There’s a new face entering the Chiefs organization, and she is already blazing trails. That’s right… “she.”

The Chiefs recently hired Tiffany Morgan as their newest athletic trainer, the team’s first female to fill the role.

Morgan is from Miami, Fla., where she attended Florida International University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences athletic training program.

The National Athletic Trainers Association said recent years have seen a significant rise in the percentage of female members in the male-dominated organization, meaning Morgan might be the odd woman out for now, but folks should expect to see plenty more ladies working the sidelines — and not holding pom-poms.

Ariko Iso made headlines in 2002 when she became the NFL’s first female athletic trainer. She worked for the Pittsburgh Steelers for nine years before joining the staff of her alma mater, Oregon State.


Athletic Training Student

Athletic Training student accepts NFL internship


“Plain and simple, Alec rocks” Crawford said. “I believe that he has the potential to do incredible things. He is an outstanding athletic training student and an even better young man!”

Alec Stahly offered prestigious seasonal NFL internship after graduation.

This August, Pioneer Alec Stahly—a current athletic training major—completed a five-week internship with the Kansas City Chiefs at the NFL’s summer training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri. Impressed by his performance, the NFL offered Stahly a second internship with the Chiefs, only this time it will take place during the full 2016 football season. Stahly said he is humbled by the offer and plans to accept.

“Simply having the NFL on a resume sets you apart,” Stahly said. “The internship is highly sought after, and that’s just for the summer training camp. A full NFL season internship—now that’s even more prestigious.”

The NFL mandates that all interns participating in the full season obtain an Athletic Training Certification, as well as pass the National Athletic Trainers Association Board of Certification Exam. Athletic training majors at MNU are required to pass both examinations before graduation, and Stahly is projected to complete his by 2016.

Stahly said he was first inspired to apply with the NFL after witnessing Brandon Harvey—also an athletic training major—find success as an intern with the San Francisco 49ers.  After applying with a number of teams, MNU clinical coordinator Jimmy Ntelekos—a former Chief’s employee—gave Stahly his recommendation.

Stahly also credits Brendon Powers, MNU director of sports medicine, for helping him land the position.

“Brendon was also a seasonal intern for the Chiefs,” Stahly said. “His recommendation helped tremendously.”

Stahly said his schedule during the internship was demanding. The student was required to be on the playing field 12 to 13 hours per day with no days off. His duties consisted primarily of identifying and reporting injuries on the field, attending to emergency equipment, as well as assisting medical staff with the rehabilitation of injured players. Due to his status as an uncertified intern, Stahly was not authorized to directly treat NFL players, but he said the opportunity for observation and assistance during incidents of injury provided him with valuable field experience.

One of the most prominent Chiefs players Stahly had the chance to work with is free safety Eric Berry. According to the Kansas City Star, Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma—a type of cancer which infects the lymph nodes.  On July 28th—just eight months after his initial diagnosis—Berry publicly announced he was cancer free after a series of successful radiation and chemotherapies. Stahly said it was an honor not only to work with Berry, but also to watch him complete his first pre-season interception after beating cancer.

“To see someone overcome that kind of adversity and continue to play at such a level was really inspiring,” Stahly said. “Not only to me, but to the whole team.”

Stahly said that Berry’s bravery both on and off the field demonstrates why he chose to become an athletic training major.

“Sometimes the grind of getting someone through something like this is challenging,” Stahly said. “But the reward is when you see them go back out and continue to do what they love.”

Stahly is currently working as an intern with the Eagles high school football team at Olathe North. This latest experience is part of MNU’s mandatory offsite sports rotation for athletic training majors. Stahly said he works directly under the supervision of Wayne Harmon—the designated sports trainer from Olathe Medical Center who oversees ON’s athletic programs. Under Harmon’s supervision, Stahly is allowed a wider degree of participation in the treatment of players when compared to his internship with the Chiefs.

“The thing you have to keep in mind is, to their parents, these kids are still worth millions of dollars,” Stahly said. “It’s still a huge responsibility.’”

Christopher Crawford, assistant professor of athletic training at MNU, speaks highly of Stahly as both an individual and a student.

“Plain and simple, Alec rocks” Crawford said. “I believe that he has the potential to do incredible things. He is an outstanding athletic training student and an even better young man!”