Despite their role, athletic trainers don’t always get attention

Posted December 10, 2019

In college and professional sports, athletic trainers don’t get as much attention as coaches and players, even though their role for a team can be just as important.

Athletic trainers get to see athletes’ injuries from start to finish, said UW-River Falls Head Athletic Trainer Kristina Burk.

“It’s a cool place to be in because we get to help these athletes every step of the way, from rehab to recovery, to getting the strength to play again,” Burk said.

Kristina Burk

Kristina Burk is the head athletic trainer at UW-River Falls (UWRF Athletics photo)

Injuries to athletes vary according to the sport and the type of play. For example, across all three NCAA divisions nationwide, football tallied an average of 8.1 injuries per 1,000 athletes, according to NCAA data for the 2004-2009 seasons. The most common injury for football players was a ligament sprain. By comparison, women’s volleyball reported an average of 4.3 injuries per 1,000 players. Outside hitters in volleyball suffered the most injuries.

The ultimate goal for Burk is to get every athlete ready to play again. As an athletic trainer, she handles rehabilitation, recovery and injury prevention. The athletic trainers are at every game, every practice, and every step of the way for all student athletes at UWRF.

All three athletic trainers at UWRF are hired by Twin Cities Orthopedics (TCO) and are contracted by the school. The athletic trainers are considered Twin Cities Orthopedics employees, but are permanently stationed at UWRF. If a player is severely injured, TCO can get UWRF athletes in to see doctors much quicker than if they weren’t affiliated.

Up-to-date facilities help in rehabilitation of injured athletes. The Falcon Center has a training room where athletic trainers handle all the rehab, recovery, strength training, ice baths, whirlpools, and anything an athlete needs to recover from an injury.