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High school senior set on pursuing a career in athletic training

Kathryn Kao

July 2, 2015

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Calyn Malinzak, 17, will fulfill her duties as an athletic training student aide for the third time this fall, but before she begins her senior year at Central Forsyth High School, she will spend a few days of her summer attending UGA's Athletic Training Student Workshop to learn more about the field of sports medicine.

Every year, the College of Education's kinesiology department hosts a three-day comprehensive workshop designed to expose high school students to the world of athletic training. While there, upper classmen are immersed in a hands-on environment to learn a variety of skills related to rehabilitation, concussion assessment and heat illness prevention.

For students who volunteer as athletic training aides at their high school, the workshop can enhance their existing knowledge of the profession.

Malinzak falls in this category and has returned for her second year with the workshop. At Central Forsyth, she is responsible for managing both the football and wrestling teams—a commitment she enjoys during the school year. In addition to making sure these players stay hydrated and that washing coolers remain sterilized, she also has to keep up with new football helmet ratings.

"I've seen injuries in both wrestling and football," she said. "We have to get rid of any gear that's beneath a four-star rating."

Like many of the students in the workshop's advanced track, Malinzak already has a basic knowledge of the field through her high school's athletic training class. Furthermore, as an aide to Central Forsyth's athletic director, she's also experienced fitting gear for the new season and taping sprains to prevent future injuries from occurring.

Nonetheless, the workshop at UGA gives Malinzak the opportunity to expand her knowledge and practice more advanced evaluation skills and techniques. During the orthopedic injury evaluation labs, the rising senior got to use a goniometer and a reflex hammer for the first time.

A goniometer is similar to a protractor and can measure 360 degrees, perfect for determining a body's full range of motion. With this instrument, the students practiced measuring their partner's flexion in both the upper and lower extremities.

Graduate students and faculty members also lectured on topics related to the upcoming activity, similar to a college class. For the lower extremity evaluation lab, Cathy Brown, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, led a brief discussion on two different injury evaluation processes, History Observation Palpation Special (HOPS) and Subjective Objective Assessment Plan (SOAP).

Afterwards, the students were asked to compare treatment options for two different athletes—a player with an on-field emergency and a player suffering from chronic shoulder pain. For the former, the students agreed on asking the athlete more general "yes or no" questions to determine whether he could continue playing, while the latter patient would receive a more elaborate assessment.

"We're teaching them why it's important that an athletic trainer fully understand anatomy by relating it to something they understand or have seen on ESPN," said workshop guide Christine Samson, a doctoral student in the athletic training program. "A lot of them shadow the athletic trainers at their high school and seem to know some stuff already, but they haven't really made the connections yet so that's what we're helping them do."

In addition to learning about the profession, the students also got to take a campus tour and participate in sessions on college programs.

"We've got a diverse group with a lot of different ages and skill levels all working together," said Brown. "We've actually had a few workshop attendees matriculate through our major."

While Malinzak isn't set on attending UGA in the future, one thing is for sure—she will be majoring in athletic training. The hands-on workshops have helped solidify her decision to pursue a career in the profession.

"I like the team aspect of being an athletic trainer," she said. "I like being a part of one team and sticking with all of those players and helping them when they initially get an injury out on the field… That's what drives me to be an athletic trainer."