May 19, 2017
Winding Road: Part 1
David Gable

It’s a journey, not a race.

I will admit that sometimes it feels like it was yesterday, and other days, it feels like it’s been 50 years. I am talking about the year I became a certified athletic trainer: 1993. I was a senior at the University of Nebraska and had taken my certification exam that spring in anticipation of graduation. It was the culmination of four years of grinding.

Full disclosure, I tried college right out of high school, but I really had no direction at the time about where I wanted to go or what I wanted to be when I grew up. My grades reflected it. So I became a soldier in the U.S. Army for a time, and, to this day, I will tell you it completely changed my life. I would not be where I am today had I not joined the Army and learned the true meaning of discipline, hard work, teamwork, and maybe most importantly, perseverance. I realize for others these traits may come naturally, but they didn’t for me. The military is not for everyone, but it helped me learn these traits. And persevered I did.

I mentioned perseverance. If you know what you want, you cannot give up regardless of the obstacles put in front of you.

Which brings me back to my time at Nebraska. A typical day for me in college was wake up at 3 a.m. and head to work at UPS to unload and eventually sort packages to help me pay the bills. At 8 a.m., it was a quick breakfast and shower and then off to class. In the afternoon, I would squeeze in lunch and then head to the athletic training room for clinical hours, practice, and/or game coverage. Then it was home by 7 or 8 p.m. to study and get to bed so I could wake up and do it all again the next day. Don’t get me wrong, I was a college student too, but this is the non-explicit version I like to share with my two daughters.

I grew up having to work, so I did not mind that part of my college experience. And the Army does not punch a clock, so the long days in the athletic training room never bothered me. There were no hour rules back then, and it was a bit of a competition amongst the students to see who could put in the most hours in the athletic training room. Not sure I led the way, but I tried.

So after I took my athletic training certification test, I waited about a month for my results — yes, a month, and they came in the mail. Then, I laid in my bed with my envelope for about an hour praying all my hard work wasn’t for nothing. “Congratulations – ” That’s all I had to read to know I passed. It was one of those moments for me when I knew I had accomplished something important. Little did I realize it was just the beginning of an amazing journey for me in my chosen profession.

I mentioned perseverance. If you know what you want, you cannot give up regardless of the obstacles put in front of you. To this day, I always tell my students: “Do what gets you out of bed in the morning. If you have to hit the snooze button seven times and talk yourself into getting up for work, you probably need to be doing something else.” I’m not sure if I heard that somewhere or just made it up, but it has stuck with me.

I am blessed that I get to do what I love every day. But I had to persevere to get here, and I was blessed that so many people gave me a chance along the way. Remember, it’s what you do with the chance once you get it. And I took many chances in my career.

Check back next week to hear about the winding road David took to reach his current position!

David Gable, MS, LAT, ATC, is Associate Athletics Director for Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer for Football at Texas Christian University. He can be reached at: [email protected].

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