Jan 29, 2015
Q&A with Jeremy Goates

Jeremy Goates, LAT, ATC, is beginning his first year as Head Athletic Trainer at Lawrence (Kans.) High School. Also an athletic trainer at the Kansas Center for Athletic Medicine, Goates is assuming his third full-time head athletic training position at a high school since graduating from the University of Kansas in 2002 and receiving his ATC in 2003. As many athletic trainers across the country begin the school year at a new school, Goates offers some advice on taking advantage of a fresh start.

Training & Conditioning: What were your career goals upon graduation in 2002?

Goates: My first short-term goal was to get certified by the NATA, and my second was to actually use the degree I had worked so hard to earn. I was working another job that had nothing to do with athletic training, and I wanted to use my education and what I had learned in a real hands-on setting. So I became certified in 2003 and started PRN work here at the Kansas Center for Athletic Medicine.

My long-term goal was to get out into the field more. I knew I could always do PRN work once I was certified because it’s always available, but I wanted to get into a more stable position at a high school or a clinic. To be honest, working at Lawrence really was my goal. The first high school I started at, I was commuting 45 miles each way. Then I ended up at another local high school, but it was all the way across town. And now I’m two minutes from a job that has me using my education every single day.

What is the first thing you do when starting at a new school?

I try to get comfortable. I sit down and talk with the athletic director and the sport coaches about their expectations as well as mine. I especially want to have a good working relationship with the coaches since I’ll be seeing them everyday–the assistant coaches, too. Assistant coaches can be a great resource when the head coach isn’t very approachable (depending on what’s going on at a practice.) It’s always good to find one or two assistant coaches you can attach yourself to so you’re apprised of team goings-on.

In my situation here at Lawrence, the athletic trainer before me was here for nine years. He really knew what was going on with every sport and every coach and athlete. The athletic director, coaches, athletes, and parents were just accustomed to him, and I was coming in as a new person with new ideas, so it was important for everybody to get comfortable with me, and vice versa.

How did you adjust to your new school?

The outgoing athletic trainer really helped me transition throughout the summer. He called a few times and took me out to the campus to show me around. Another big help was that they built a new athletic training room this year. Going in, I was able to set it up from scratch using all of my preferences instead of moving in and adapting to an existing setup. This will give me instant familiarity with the facility, and I can use it more effectively.

What will you do differently this year than in years past?

I am definitely making more of an effort to get to know the coaches better. In the past I have had a few rocky relationships with coaches. Whether it’s my style of athletic training or their style as a head coach, at times we butted heads. At one school, there were problems initially because all of the athletic trainers before me had not gotten along well with the coaches, so when I got there those coaches all expected that I wasn’t going to get along with them either.

I want the coaches to trust me and I want to be able to approach them with my concerns. It can be hectic at times when a team’s starting player is injured and the athletic trainer is trying to communicate with the coach during a tension-filled moment. I need to be able to get my feelings about the injury across to the coach during a time when he is probably more worried about the game.

So how do you best communicate with a coach?

I think having both a formal and informal relationship helps. Some coaches work off-site during the day, so the only time you see them is at practices and games, which can make that a little more difficult. But I definitely think that when appropriate, having a more out-of-the-workplace type of relationship helps.

I’ve also stressed my guidelines and communicated clearly what coaches can expect from me. And after our preseason meetings, I know what I can expect from them. This year I was invited to the annual coaches’ meeting and the athletic director gave me as much time as I needed to go through different policies that I have and express any concerns. I took the opportunity to talk about heat illness with fall practices and head injuries. That was a good way to show them what I was going to bring to Lawrence. Since then I’ve had time to talk with most of the coaches individually about what they expect. I was also invited a meeting for parents and athletes. I didn’t speak at it, but was introduced to everyone there, and I think that’s important that the parents know who I am.

Are you anticipating any specific challenges?

I’ve been new at a school a few times and one of the recurring challenges is that kids don’t always come to me when they’re hurt. Because I’m a different athletic trainer and they don’t know me yet, it’s normal for them to just go to the coaches first and not tell me about it right away. Or the athlete will go to their parent, who takes them to the doctor without my knowledge and then a couple days later I’ll get a doctor’s note saying someone can’t practice. That looks bad if a coach comes to me I have no idea that the player even went to the doctor. It’s always a challenge, and one that seems to just take time. I haven’t figured out the answer to that one yet.

What are you most looking forward to starting at Lawrence?

The other schools I’ve worked at were newer schools, and Lawrence is an older, very established high school. They’re really into their athletics and really stand behind their program. I’m very excited to be a part of that. There’s a lot of tradition I get to be involved in and the athletic director and coaching staff have been really helpful all the way around. Working in the new athletic training room and getting to start fresh in my own space doesn’t hurt either!

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