Article reposted from The Progress
This is the first in a six-part series on Progressland area athletic trainers in honor of National Athletic Training Month, which begins today.
HYDE — If you’ve been to an athletic event at Clearfield, there’s no doubt you’ve seen athletic trainer Sam Morgan around.
Covering a total of 16 sports spanning three seasons, Morgan has the task of covering the biggest school in the Progressland area.
And while that can be a huge challenge filled with 12-14 hour days, the Clearfield alum says she wouldn’t want it any other way.
Morgan was a three-sport athlete at Clearfield, playing volleyball, basketball and softball. She also participated in the marching band, concert band, orchestra and choir.
But it was an encounter with the school’s then-trainer, Trevor Kephart, who got her interested in the profession.
“I had gone through my own sports-related injuries in high school, and it was my own athletic trainer who showed me how to get back and keep me playing at the level I wanted to,” Morgan said. “He made it interesting to understand the why things happened and how to fix it. Thanks Trevor!”
After deciding that she wanted to follow the same path after her high school graduation in 2004, she went on to get her undergraduate degree at William Paterson University of New Jersey before getting her master’s degree at California University of Pennsylvania.
While in college, Morgan kept up with sports, playing four years of volleyball.
After graduation she moved on to be an athletic trainer at Juniata College for three years, before moving back to Clearfield to take a position at Drayer Phyiscal Therapy Institute. That job allowed her to take over as the athletic trainer at Clearfield five years ago this past December.
Morgan says while her job can be demanding and require long hours, she enjoys getting to know both her athletes and their parents.
“I love the relationships that I build with the coaches, athletes, officials, and parents,” she said. “You become a part of their families, and they yours.”
While there is never a typical day for athletic trainers, Morgan says on a game day she is usually into the clinic by 8 a.m. and works there until noon.
She heads over to the school at 2 p.m. to prep her athletic training bag and taping cart for whichever sports are on tap for that day.
By 3 p.m. she is knee deep into taping, evaluating and stretching dozens of athletes for away games, practices and home games.
From 3:30-4 p.m. she preps the fields and playing areas for the games in case she is needed at a field that she isn’t physically covering. She also meets with the coaches and officials to see if they need anything and introduces herself.
From game time on, she is back and forth between the gym and the fields covering multiple events. She carries a radio and uses a golf cart to get around the vast Bison Sports Complex, which can host up to five events in one day.
Once the games are completed, Morgan cleans up all of her bags and checks the schedule to prepare for the next day.
Because of the time the athletic trainers put in behind the scenes, it’s easy to assume they have an easy job that anyone can do. But in reality, during the school season, Morgan’s schedule is packed from the beginning of the school year until the end.
“One major misconception I get is that I can just not show up to work, or can call off last minute,” said Morgan. “That is not the case. Not everyone can fill in. Our schedules between our regional athletic trainers are so full that if we would like to take time off there has to be a decent amount of notice and even then things may have to go uncovered, which isn’t an option.”
Still Morgan loves her job and it’s easy to see that out in the field. The rapport she has with her coaches and athletes makes her a trusted figure when an injury happens on the field.
Injuries are a big part of the job and with eight years of experience under her belt, Morgan has seen her share of them.
“There are several injuries that I remember in my career so far,” she said. “The most recent one was a lacerated spleen. It forces you to use things that you never thought or hoped that you would ever have to use. It is an injury that most will never see, but if you do you will never forget.”
With all the bad things that can happen in high school sports, Morgan says there are a lot of positive memories she has developed from working at her alma mater.
“Each year I take away many memories,” Morgan said. “I enjoy watching history being made, and athletes and teams accomplishing achievements that as a high school athlete I was able to achieve or experience. This current year, I was able to witness an all-time scoring record being broken.”
Still, the profession isn’t a isn’t an easy one. It takes a lot of time, preparation and balance.
“This profession is very demanding and takes a special type of person to achieve well at all of the attributes equally,” said Morgan. “You can be the smartest person in the world, but if the kids hate you and the parents and coaches do not trust you, you will not be successful.
“Success in the profession is not based on the salary that you make, it’s the relationships that you build, and the influence you have on those you come in contact with. You have the potential to change one person’s life. Seeing an athlete with a season or even career ending injury happens, but how you can help them deal with it can make all the difference.
While Morgan seems to have found that balance, she also credits her family, who has helped her immensely.
“I would like to thank my parents for their constant support and understanding when I have to work long hours and many nights in a row, and have to miss family functions,” she said. “When you’re starving because you haven’t eaten since lunch, I can count on them to take time out of their day to make sure that I get something to eat too.”
For now Morgan hopes to continue to follow her mantra, ‘Be the change and pay it forward!’
And that’s why the athletes and administration have come to count on Morgan and her expertise.