Every athletic trainer reaches a point in his or her work year that I refer to as the grind. For me the grind is mid-February to mid-March, the last month of the collegiate basketball season.
Morning treatments before the sun comes up, practice ends after dark, the night class I teach twice a week seems to meet way more often than that, at least two days a week trapped in a bus, and of course there isn’t a healthy athlete at the entire university.
I imagine high school ATs have two points in their work year that would qualify as the grind. One, the end of football season and two, that magical time in the spring when every sport that can possibly be played is in action. I really don’t see how you guys make it through.
The reason I bring up the grind is simple. It is at this time that even the most devoted AT occasionally questions their career choice. So, why do we put ourselves through this yearly punishment knowing full well that it’s coming? For me it’s an easy call. There is nothing better then healthy competition and I truly love being a part of it.
The excitement of games and chasing a championship make the long hours and stress completely worth it, especially when your team finally finishes the job. What about those years when your team comes up short? Well there are many more victories for us as ATs. My favorite is getting to return an athlete from an injury and watching them play with a rediscovered passion and intensity. These athletes had something they loved taken away from them and now they have a second chance, and their AT is largely responsible for that second chance.
So next time you find yourself in the middle of your grind ask yourself how you would feel if athletic training was taken from you (yes, “relieved” is okay in the short term). Then try and imagine the passion and intensity you would have when you were able to return to the career you love. That passion and intensity will see you through and I promise your athletes appreciate it even if they don’t excel at expressing it.