Football Internship About Confidence, Growth for FSC Student
Florida Southern College's emphasis on engaged learning has forever changed Tarik Church.
Church, a senior majoring in athletic training, is still reveling in all he experienced during a six-month stint with Auburn University's football team that culminated in winning the BCS National Championship in Glendale, Ariz., in January.
During his internship, Church, 21, was able to put to use not only his classroom knowledge but also what he'd learned in previous clinical experiences and internships. He got to work right away, logging 14 hours or more per day, helping players prevent, treat, and rehabilitate injuries.
"I worked first-hand with the guys post-surgery and I helped the athletic trainers with all the taping and treatments," said Church.
Perhaps most exciting was that Church was on the sidelines during every home and away game. While certainly enjoying the games as a spectator, Church also quickly learned to spot injuries, anticipating what a player would need when he came to the bench. This keen eye for sprains, strains, bruises and cuts meant Church was able to gather his supplies and get right to work, helping players get back on the field quickly.
The internship has instilled in Church a newfound sense of confidence.
"I worked the hours of the full-time staff. I got to see the internal workings of a Division I Athletic Department instead of just reading about it," he said. "My confidence did grow."
Church, a Tampa native, will graduate in April. He plans to pursue a master's degree in athletic training and eventually work as an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach in a sport such as football.
Church's story, while a bit more glamorous than others thanks to the BCS National Championship, is not unusual in the athletic training program at Florida Southern College. That is because future athletic trainers are required to complete hundreds of hours of clinical practice and internships that take them out of their comfort zones.
"We like to send students to a larger school to build their resumes and offer them varied and exciting educational experiences," said Sue Stanley-Green, athletic training education program director and associate professor of athletic training.
As the athletic training field has evolved, there are even more opportunities for internships, including with performing arts organizations and the military. FSC's athletic training department is also working to expand its international opportunities – all with the idea of producing self-assured, well-rounded graduates.
"Internships help students pull everything together and give them the opportunities for a tremendous amount of decision-making experience, which builds confidence," said Stanley-Green.
In addition to off-campus engaged learning experiences, athletic training students also have the opportunity for hands-on learning right here at FSC. They assist with the care of FSC student-athletes and work at sports medicine clinics, high schools, colleges, and with professional sports.
The athletic training students also learn by teaching. They recently planned and presented conferences for the Lakeland Fire Department and for FSC performing arts students that focused on injury prevention, treatment, and emergency care.