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WCU athletic training majors help young high school sports teams

out athleticWestern Carolina University’s athletic training major is giving hands-on experience to its students while helping area high school athletic departments, as part of the curriculum.

The program’s 42 students traveled to 12 schools in five counties for clinical experiences in athletic training for football, basketball, soccer and volleyball. 

The four-year program prepares students for state licensing and national certification and has a strong emphasis on experiential learning and service. As soon as they become sophomores, students accepted in the program begin clinical work at designated sites and learn first-hand what a professional career in the field is like.

Four days each week, Tuesdays through Fridays, for seven weeks the students teamed up and traveled in pairs to the schools, where they practiced under the tutelage of certified athletic trainers. They helped the athletic trainers address health concerns of the student-athletes during practices after school, stayed on for night games, and occasionally traveled with the teams to away games, devoting about 150 hours to the experience. In the spring of 2014, they will be assigned to different schools for an additional 200 hours of clinical experience.

In North Carolina, athletic trainers must pass a national exam to be certified and obtain a license. All 14 graduates of the WCU program in the past year passed the test on their first attempt, even though historically, at the national level, fewer than 60 percent do so.

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