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Hardin-Simmons University’s Program Prepares Students to Keep Athletes Safe

By Janlyn Thaxton



When Andrew Jacques stands on the sidelines every afternoon during HSU’s football practice, he is watching players with a skillful eye.Jacques is studying to become an athletic trainer in a program at HSU thatDirector of Athletic Training Education David Stuckey says has a 100% employment rate for students after graduation.The athletic training major in which Andrew is involved was started back in 1999. The department recently went through a reaccreditation process which will continue to allow HSU graduates to get jobs as athletic trainers in any state. {{more}}Stuckey says HSU is one of only 16 athletic trainer programs in Texas that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. “Being accredited is what allows students who graduate from the HSU program to be eligible for national certification,” says Stuckey. “Students in the program can become licensed athletic trainers, and certified athletic trainers. Forty-seven states require ATs to be nationally certified. Job seekers can’t get certificationif the athletic training program from which they graduate has not been accredited,” says Stuckey.“We typically have about 15 to 20 students in the program each year, and 100% of them can get a job in the field,” he says.Athletic trainers keep our school athletes safe. That’s what Jacques is doing everyday as he stands on the sideline of football practice and then heads to baseball practice. He watches for athletes who may be having trouble on the field, but he also keeps an eagle eye on HSU’s head athletic trainer D.J. Gilliland.Gilliland is himself a graduate of HSU. Stuckey points to other successful grads, “Rick Redden is the president of theNorth TexasAthletic Trainers Society and is a high school athletic trainer in Saginaw, near Ft. Worth.”“One of our 2010 grads is now working as a graduate assistant at Baylor,” says Stuckey. Emily Jones was one of only two students in Texas chosen to attend the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Student Leadership Conference in Washington D.C.last year. “Emily’s selection was a substantial honor for both her and HSU’s accredited athletic training program,” says Stuckey.HSU students get plenty of field experience on the sidelines at HSU, but also work with local high schools, orthopedic surgeons, family practice doctors, and do a six-week internship at the West Texas Rehab Sports Center. “There, our students see anything from sports injuries to patients with joint replacements. They can also go through an optional six-week internship at either Abilene High or Cooper.”There they get to assist licensed ATs with sports injuries, diagnosis, and injury prevention. Stuckey himself drives to Colorado City each Friday to make sure high school football players have skilled hands and eyes watching over them if they encounter an injury on the field. Stuckey says the reaccreditationis good for another 10 years.

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