By Mallory Morrison
Blood pumping. Sweat dripping. Heart beating. Then, in that moment you can finally taste it — victory!
Athletes know the sweet taste of victory and the bitter taste of losing when it comes to sports. But without the true hero behind the scenes, sports would have no taste at all.
Athletic trainers are the dedicated heroes of athletics, because without them, there would be no sports. They are underpaid, overworked, and often taken for granted.
Matthew Dillard, Elizabeth Lewis, Scott Landis and Drew Werner are our heroes here at Bryan College.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in exercise health science from University of Tennessee at Knoxville and his masters degree in athletic training from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Dillard came to fill an athletic trainer position at Bryan College where he has now been for the past five years and is now the head athletic trainer. Dillard says that he was not athletic but loved sports, which led him to pursue a career in athletic training.
“I have really enjoyed getting to know Matt and appreciate him over the past couple of years that I have been at Bryan as a student athlete,” said sophomore cheerleader Jerelyn Gentry. “With every injury I’ve had, he would check on me and make sure to ease me back into my sport to prevent another injury.”
Lewis has been an assistant athletic trainer at Bryan for the past three years. She received her undergraduate degree in athletic training at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., and her masters degree in health and physical education at Columbus State University in Georgia. Originally, she wanted to become a physical therapist. However, not all people who go to physical therapy are motivated to get better. Lewis wanted to work with athletes who would be motivated to overcome their injury. She also enjoys working at a Christian college because she can share her faith and encourage her athletes spiritually.
Junior softball player Heidi Daniel said, “Liz is a very caring person. She cares so much about her athletes and always has our best interest at heart.”
The newest addition to Bryan’s team of athletic trainers is Werner who graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with an undergraduate degree in athletic training in the spring of 2013. Werner’s interest in the field began as a high school athlete. He enjoyed being in the training room and liked seeing the athletic trainer help athletes get better.
“Drew is super caring and patient and takes time out of his day to teach me things in a way I can actually understand it,” said junior, cheerleader Taylor McKissick.
All of our athletic trainers agree that the best part of their job is working with athletes.
“Seeing athletes go from worst case scenario to getting back and playing without any restrictions and knowing that you had a hand in them returning to something that they love to do is my favorite part of my job,” said Dillard.
They would also all agree that the downfall of being an athletic trainer is the unpredictability of the hours they work. From Monday to Saturday, the trainers put in an average of 60-65 hours all year and over 70 hours on weeks they travel to away games. Having Sundays off is an advantage to working at a Christian school, because secular university athletic trainers work every day of the week.
“I think the athletic trainers do a great job under difficult circumstances. They have long hours and are often stretched by the amount of athletes they have to help recover from injuries. I think that Scott offers excellent help to the trainers who work full time in the training room and that the athletes are extremely thankful for what the trainers do for them, said Junior, soccer player Daniel Branley.
Senior Michelle McLeod has spent many hours in the BC training room shadowing the athletic trainers to gain practicum hours for her EHS major requirements since the fall semester of 2013. Cleaning the training room, helping athletes with their rehab, and making sure that all of the equipment is easily accessible for the athletes are some of the many daily duties she completes throughout the week to help our trainers.
McKissick said that her time in the training room shadowing has taught her so much and has given her a lot of hands-on practice that will be helpful in the future when applying for physical therapy school.
McLeod and McKissick love working with all of the athletic trainers and appreciate their hard work and dedication to their job and to their athletes.
Without Dillard, Lewis, Landis and Werner, Bryan College would not have the successful athletic programs that it does. They deserve credit for every play, every game and every win, because they make the athletes ready to perform and ready to compete in order to taste victory.