Joy Marie Hallare / The Collegian
Fresno State athletics has a program that gives the students the opportunity to have hand on experience.
Deep in the heart of the athletic department the small group of students that work tirelessly to better Fresno State athletics is the Athletic Training Education Program.
Open to students majoring in Kinesiology, the program is one of only five in the CSU system that is an accredited program. Requirements to get in are rigorous and students have been known to wait up to three years before being accepted.
The program normally takes between 20 and 25 students each year, this year 49 applicants applied and only 24 were accepted.
“I applied to Fresno State first and after I was accepted the next step was the program paperwork, which was due in February,” said Chris Jamero, level two athletic training education student.
The program is based on levels. Level one is considered pre-entrance athletic training for freshman and sophomores interested in the program. It isn’t until after acceptance into the program you become a level two and you’re officially an athletic training emphasis.
“After the application process you go through an in-depth interview,” Jamero said. “It feels like an eternity though because you’re so nervous.”
It takes about three weeks before applicants know if they are accepted or not and then accepted students are given till May 1 to respond.
“I didn’t accept right away, I wanted to wait to hear back from the University of Pacific first, “ Jamero said. “But I ended up accepting the Fresno State bid because the program is to good to pass up.”
Level two’s have limited responsibility since level two is mostly an observation year, but responsibilities include practice coverage, game coverage and assessment of game time injuries.
Also, part of being a level two is the hands on learning process. This includes personal attention and guidance from either athletic trainers working full-time with different sports, full time athletic training staff, or athletic training clinical instructors.
“It’s something that a lot of school’s don’t offer and it’s really shows you how hard it is to be in this job,” said Lauren Erickson, certified athletic trainer.
Erickson is a full time graduate assistant working specifically with the Fresno State softball. She completed her undergraduate diploma in Boston and passed her certification test making her eligible to work for Fresno State while getting her Master’s degree. Part of her job is overseeing undergraduate athletic training students and allowing them to learn from her doing.
“I never thought I wanted to teach, but having my own students has been fun,” she said. “It pushes me to be a better athletic trainer and to be a positive role model.”
The education program is two-year long process adding up about 600 hours of clinical experience per a year. After level two, you go on to level three. This includes designing personalized treatments for athletes by focusing on just one sport per a semester. It’s simulates real life athletic training, but still leaves room for correction if needed.
It gives the students the opportunity to be given more responsibility with the rehabilitation of athletes while being overlooked by just one Accredited Clinical Instructor instead of many.
Cesar Ruvalcaba is a level three athletic training student who will be graduating in May.
“The main difference is your responsibilities,” he said. “They increase substantially and there is a lot more you have to pay attention to.”
The experience turns personal when you get to work with the players one team for a semester. Trust is a big part of the friendships that form between the students and athletes.
“A few ways to get the trust is your knowledge of athletic training,” Ruvalcaba said. “It’s not just anatomy and evaluations, you have to anticipate what’s coming. You got to show you are they for them and they become comfortable with approaching you.”
Ruvalcaba is thankful for his experience in the program and feels ready for life in the job field.
“Overall, I got a variety of experiences with sports here,” he said. “Every ACI helps you work towards your goal. Working with football you pick up a lot, but now working with volleyball, I get to see a different perspective.”