Timothy Clark, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at California Baptist University, shares the personal fulfillment he’s found with a career in athletic training.
What initially attracted you to athletic training?
Since the 8th or 9th grade, I knew that I wanted to be an athletic trainer. I grew up in upstate New York, and have always been into athletics. My godfather was an athletic trainer with the New York Islanders Hockey Team, and I always thought it was so cool to see him running on the ice to take care of the players. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be around athletes.
I have now been a certified athletic trainer for 25 years—since 1993.
What is your philosophy in regards to athletic training?
Simply be aggressive. Be aggressive with treatments and rehab. You want to get the athletes back quicker. Back on the field, back on the ice, back to play. Finding ways to encourage faster and more effective healing is important.
What sports do you typically work with at California Baptist University?
I work with both men’s basketball and the cheer and dance team.
What injuries do you typically experience with cheer and dance?
You see everything with cheer and dance. The team is very competitive and the women are pushing their bodies to the limits.
We see all types of injuries—ankle, knees, dislocated shoulders, concussions. You name it, our cheer team has been through it.
What injuries do you typically experience with basketball?
We see a lot of injuries in basketball too. Ankle injuries, ACL, low backs, stress fractures.
What shifts have you seen in athletic training throughout the years?
There has been a lot of buzz with the ice controversy. Do you ice an injury or not?
While there has been a lot of talk about icing, there has also been a shift in overall thinking. When I speak to other trainers about not icing, there has not been much push back about not using ice as much for treatment.
I have changed my own practices over the years. Ice is no longer my “go-to” thing. I think it is important to flush out the area and allow the inflammatory process to take place. I want to help an injury run through the appropriate course and not inhibit the process.
What is the most difficult aspect about being an athletic trainer?
The hours that we work can be extremely long. We are not on a typical 9am-5pm schedule. There are nights, weekends, holidays. Plus, there are many additional demands that are placed on us. You have to love what you do and be passionate about the job.
What advice do athletes hesitate to listen to?
Athletes don’t want to hear that they can’t play. That is not what an athlete wants to hear. But if you have a good relationship with an athlete, they trust you and will listen when you say that taking a step back is the best option to get back to play faster.
How were you introduced to the Marc Pro?
I was the Head Trainer of the Anaheim Ducks Ice Hockey team. One day, Gary Reinl came into our training room with the Marc Pro. He told me about the benefits of the devices and it didn’t take long before the players were loving the devices too.
When I left the Ducks and went to CBU, I brought a Marc Pro with me. We have been using them at CBU ever since.
“It helps get athletes back to what they love to do faster. It is an amazing tool for the rehab treatment process.”
How many Marc Pros do you have at the university?
We have 5 to 6 units now at CBU.
What is your Marc Pro protocol at your school?
We keep the Marc Pro in the training room. We try to use the devices before and after practices with the athletes. The standard for athlete use is 15 minutes before practice and then 15 minutes after practice. I find that using the Marc Pro is a good base for other rehab activities. I can use the machine and then follow up with massage and rolling. I also travel with the Marc Pro because it is so portable for on the road.
What do your athletes like best about the Marc Pro?
The athletes like that they feel it working. You can see the muscle working. You can see swelling leave the area. You can visually see what is going on. Plus, the athletes say that they feel better as soon as they get off the machine.
How has the Marc Pro helped you and your team in the training room?
It helps by doing what it is designed to do. It helps the treatment process. It helps get athletes back to what they love to do faster. It is an amazing tool for the rehab treatment process
What is your favorite part about working with athletes on a daily basis?
Seeing athletes progress is tremendous. And, I love the environment with the athletes. I love the type of people the athletes are too. We have good kids at this school, and I get to work with them everyday.
When athletes are happy, we, as athletic trainers, are happy. Being part of the process of keeping an athlete healthy or helping them return to their sport is extremely rewarding.
What advice would you give to athletes about recovery?
Do it as much as you can. Recovery is something that we are continuing to do more research on. The more you recover, the more you can push the next day.