May 19, 2017Winding Road: Part 2
In Part 1, Texas Christian University Head Athletic Trainer for Football David Gable talked about the importance of perseverance in a sports medicine career. This installment describes how taking chances and following his gut helped get him where he is today.
Following my undergraduate years, it was off to grad school at Ohio University. I was part of an amazing program with amazing people. And then my winding career path really began.
After grad school, I took a job in a physical therapy clinic in Athens, Ohio, as the first and only athletic trainer they had ever employed. I learned so much from some great clinicians there. Sheila (the owner) took a chance on me, but I knew my heart was with football. The NFL was preferable, but college was definitely on the table. I had done an internship with the Kansas City Chiefs one summer in college, but I needed more.
Then one night while surfing the net, I saw a college position for an athletic trainer working with football for Texas Christian University… After a lot of thought and prayer, I knew it was my turn to take a chance on myself.
So I went to south Florida to become the Head Athletic Trainer for an Arena League team for three seasons, followed by a cup of coffee with a start-up minor league basketball team in Louisiana. That fizzled quickly, but another person took a chance on me and hired me as one of the Head Athletic Trainers in the NFL Europe. Three seasons and two championships later, with a couple summer camps with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers sprinkled in, I was starting to question my path.
Fortunately, around this time, yet another person took a chance on me, and I became the Head Athletic Trainer for the XFL in Alabama. We all know what happened there, but I worked with some incredible people and continued to expand my network. Once the XFL folded, I continued to soak up all the football I could get, again working in the Arena League for two more seasons.
Then one night while surfing the net, I saw a college position for an athletic trainer working with football for Texas Christian University, an up-and-coming team that was ranked at the time. I don’t know what it was, but something struck me about it. After a lot of thought and prayer, I knew it was my turn to take a chance on myself.
From the time I applied to the day I started work, roughly three weeks had passed. Fourteen seasons, 12 bowl games, several conference championships, and three promotions later, I sit here amazed sometimes that I have been so blessed to have had the opportunities presented to me and to be where I am today. I am truly thankful for the people who gave me a chance along the way and believed in me. Without them, I would not be here. A special thank you to Jerry, Dave and Bud, Skip, Sheila, Crash, Mayfield, Larry, John, Bobby, Jerry, Chris, Ross, Gary, Eric, Mike, Gretchen and Chris, just to name a few.
So that is my journey. I know there are so many athletic trainers out there with a similar story of hard work, sacrifices, long days, and perseverance. If I can leave anything behind to our young colleagues, it’s this: Allow time for yourself to do things you enjoy with your family, friends, and colleagues outside of work. Find that and embrace it. You will not get burnt out if you truly love what you do. It will not always be easy, and you will make some sacrifices along the way for sure. But I still get up when the alarm goes off the first time. Do that.