As I was reading over JJ's student loan repayment schedule last night and factoring it into our monthly budget, I started laughing. He asked me why I was laughing, and I explained to him that here we are, tens of thousands of dollars in debt for his masters education, and so many people don't even know what it is that he does.
So often when I say he's an athletic trainer, people assume he's a personal trainer with athletes. This would be more of a strength coach. Then I'll tell them he's in Sports Medicine, and they understand a bit better. While Sports Medicine isn't their technical title, I think it describes what they do a bit better. But please, don't ever call them 'a trainer'.
So what exactly does JJ do? First, he's got his teams. This year he has men's soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring. He has to be at every practice, conditioning, lifting, games (home and away), and he's generally in the training room 1-2 hours before and after every single one of the events listed to administer treatment, tape athletes, medicate (occasionally), and get the water and/or gatorade made and brought to the field. Sometimes he has underclassman to help him with the tasks, but not at his current position. He also has provides, coverage for the other AT's when they're travelling, and random things, like physicals and drug testing (yes, he gets to drive pee in cups to clinics!). He occasionally gets a 2am text or phone call with someone in the hospital (broken noses, appendix's bursting, you name it!)
JJ is also responsible for office hours, which include keeping athlete's medical records and insurance straight, as well as logging every bit of activity an athlete has in the training room. Sometimes he's gone for weeks at a time, and he generally puts in 50-60 hour weeks, not including travelling.
Many hard working, dedicated Athletic trainers are so very underpaid. JJ has his masters and he has a great job, yet he makes a bit less than I do in a bookkeeping job. Their salaries tend to be at th every bottom of athletic professional's salaries though they put in as much or more work. Many AT's work in clinics, and are sent out to high schools or work in facility similar to physical therapists. Physical Therapists and AT's recently settled a lawsuit over whether Athletic Trainers should be able to collect Medicare (I think, visit nata.org for more information).
If you're an athlete, or a former athlete, you probably know and respect Athletic Trainers, especially the truly dedicated, hard-working, invested ones. JJ loves his athletes, he loves the work he does (except for the office work), and he loves to learn about new techniques.
It's great having an Athletic Trainer as a husband, but then it's pretty crappy! Sometimes I'll get to go to cool events and see him do fun things (IU Big 10 Championship, Carolina Panthers Internship, etc.). Whenever I'm injured - which isn't often, knock on wood! - he knows exactly how to treat me and get me back to normal. However, like I said, his hours are long, always changing, weekends are usually busy with games and practice, and he travels. I don't know that the good balances out the bad (because I barely see him during season), but he loves his job, and that's what matters.
So what's the point in this post? I don't really have a point... I just have a request - appreciate your Athletic Trainers! If you're involved with boosters or you're on a board or committee that determines anything regarding the Athletic Trainer's salaries, their facilities and supplies, please know that they do what they do because they love it, and you should appreciate them!