How to Become an Athletic Trainer for a Professional Sports Team

Athletic trainers within the sports medicine industry help prepare athletes for competition and treat injuries during and after games. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the need for trainers will grow by 37 percent between 2008 and 2018, as more recreation facilities and companies add staff to keep even amateur athletes healthy and cut overall medical costs. The increase in available openings also means more competition to achieve the highest level in the field: working for a professional sports team.

Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training is the recognized source for establishing undergraduate programs in the United States. Particular fields of study include biology, physics, nutrition and pre-med courses involving injury recognition and management.

Intern with a sports medicine professional. Learn office protocol, athlete preparation and primary treatment options while establishing valuable contacts within the profession. Commit to working long hours and accept every assignment to learn as much as possible during your internship.

Volunteer to earn experience working with athletes. Local sports leagues and schools often will seek assistance from trainers to help prior to competitions or during games. You will provide important hands-on experience because it allows you to show your knowledge and independence. Include all volunteer service on your resume.

Seek a higher degree to improve your resume and knowledge. A master’s degree or doctorate will be attractive when professional sports employers consider your application, as advanced education will prove your commitment to achieving the highest level in your field.

Take and pass the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training’s national certification exam to earn your professional credential.

Apply for employment with a college or minor league team. You will need employment experience to work your way to the big leagues of professional sports. When hired, establish yourself with excellent work ethic and attitude. Maintain a list of contacts within both medicine and athletics who will lead to your advancement to the pros in the sports medicine field.

Colleges With Degree Programs in Recreation & Tourism Management

A recreation and tourism management college major provides management skills and training to understand the structure of the recreation and tourism industry. Recreation and tourism businesses range from national parks and amusement parks to hotels and sports facilities. Recreation and tourism management majors can find vast employment opportunities, whether they are looking to manage from an office, a hotel or outdoors in a national park. Several universities offer majors in recreation and tourism management.

North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University offers an undergraduate degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. The program allows students to choose one of three concentrations: program management, park and natural resource recreation or tourism and commercial recreation. Sample courses listed on NC State’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management website include Commercial Recreation & Tourism Management, Business Processes, Management of Park & Recreation Facilities, Organizational Behavior, Sports Law, Ecology, Leadership & Supervision in Recreation.

Students are also encouraged to complete an internship, summer job or co-op in the parks and recreation field prior to graduation. Some positions held by the program’s graduates include recreation program specialists, athletic directors and special events planners. The average starting salary for the program’s graduates at the bachelor’s level was $35,384 as of July 2009, according to the program’s website.

Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers two undergraduate degree options in this field: parks and recreation management and tourism development and management.

In the parks and recreation management program, students focus on delivering and managing leisure programs to a diverse audience, as well as managing protected areas, such as parks. According to the parks and recreation management program page on the Arizona State website, the program’s curriculum utilizes both classroom and field experiences. Areas studied include recreation and parks policy, programming, planning and management, history and communication. Students in this program are prepared for careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

The tourism development and management program gives students regional and global perspectives of tourism and tourism growth. The program covers motivations for travel, visitor experiences and perceptions and the economic and social impacts of tourism in both developing and developed nations. This program requires that students complete an internship in order to be exposed to the business of tourism in diverse fields. According to the tourism development and management program’s website, graduates are employed at organizations such as the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, the Hyatt Regency Phoenix and the Royal Palms Resort & Spa.

Clemson University
Clemson University offers an undergraduate degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. According to the program’s website, the curriculum is designed to offer students broad exposure to the social, physical and biological sciences. It also offers broad knowledge of management skills needed to oversee leisure programs and resources.

The curriculum can be individualized based on each student’s interest. Areas of emphasis include community recreation, sport and camp management; professional golf management; park and protected area management; therapeutic recreation; and travel and tourism. The program allows students to take courses toward a minor of their choosing, and they can participate in the department’s honors program.

Students are also encouraged to complete an internship and/or practicum in their area of interest.

Sports Facility Grants

State, county and university organizations offer grant money for the construction, maintenance and improvement of community sports facilities. Most of these grants are available for city organizers, independent organizations or schools that are looking to fix up athletic fields, courts, pools, indoor training centers and other indoor or outdoor sports-related facilities.

Washington State Youth Athletics Facilities Grants
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office offers a Youth Athletic Facilities, or YAF, grant program that provides funding for the maintenance and development of youth sports facilities in the state. The money can be used to support a variety of athletic facilities, including baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts or swimming pools. Open lots, playgrounds and other outdoor areas that can be used for activities other than athletic play are not eligible for the grants. The grant cap as of 2010 is $150,000 for new facilities, and $25,000 to $75,000 for existing facilities. Any city or community that buys land or facilities with YAF funds is required to make those properties forever available to young athletes.

Texas Recreation Grant Program
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, TPWD, offers a Recreation Grant Program funded by the Texas Recreation and Parks Account. The grant program is actually divided among five different grants, including those for outdoor recreation, indoor recreation (facilities), small communities, regional operations and the community outdoor outreach program. As of 2010, the indoor facility grant awards upwards of $750,000 for the construction of recreation centers and community centers such as athletic facilities. The annual application deadline for the TPWD indoor recreation grant falls on July 31st.

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Grants
The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, a research organization operated out of the University of Southern Mississippi, offers several grants that are designed to promote safety and security within sporting venues. For example, the Development of Professional Competence for Sport Security Grant is worth $85,000 as of 2010 and is designed to help cultivate sport security directors for specific facilities and arenas. The organization’s Competitive Training Grant Program, meanwhile, is worth more than $3.4 million and is available to help organizations develop a National Risk Management Certification for Sports Events program.

How to Get a Degree in Recreational Therapy in Tennessee

The field of recreational therapy is an offshoot of physical therapy. Often called therapeutic recreation, certified therapists work with patients to enhance their level of participation in recreational activities, including sports and exercise. Recreational therapists work at camps, parks and assisted living facilities and provide a variety of services, from planning recreation and sporting events to adapting normal recreation activities for those with disabilities. Employment opportunities for those living in Tennessee is limited, but several schools in Tennessee offer degree programs in the field. You can choose a brick-and-mortar school or take online courses to jump start your career in recreational therapy.

Prepare for your career in high school by taking classes heavy in math and science, especially biology and chemistry. The more knowledge you have going into college, the better you will cope with the demands of the degree. Contact recreational therapists in your area and shadow them at their jobs, if possible, to gain a better understanding of what a recreational therapist does. Experience enhances your credentials when you apply to college programs.

Choose a college that offers a degree program in recreational therapy. According to the Therapeutic Recreation Directory, as of 2010, two schools in Tennessee offer therapeutic recreation. These include the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro. In addition, several online schools offer various degrees related to recreational therapy.

Take classes in recreational therapy. At UT-Knoxville, earn an undergraduate degree in recreation and leisure studies by taking classes including development of recreation programs, principles of movement control and skill learning, medical terminology and bioethics. Students at MTSU can expect to study topics including leisure and aging, recreational therapy technology, therapeutic terminology in recreational therapy, transitional and community recreation therapy. Before registering for classes at any school, confirm that the degree program is accredited by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCRTC).

Complete an internship. Programs at UT-Knoxville and MTSU include a semester-long internship after coursework is completed that involves on-the-job training with a recreational agency.

Study for, take and pass the credentialing exam for recreational therapy administered by the NCTRC. Your college department of therapeutic recreation can give you information on registering for the exam. Once certified by the NCTRC, you will be eligible to practice as a licensed recreational therapist.

How to Start a Youth Sports League

The reward of kids being able to participate in organized sports makes the planning and work worth the effort. Once you’ve researched and found there are enough interested youth to participate in the league, you’ll need to find, and lock down, venues where the kids can play; raise and organize money; recruit coaches; promote the league; set up game schedules; order and distribute uniforms and equipment; and take care of a few legal issues.

Find Venues for Games
Make a master list of all the fields, courts or gyms within your city. Local elementary, middle and high school facilities are an option, but keep in mind that they may be hosting their own sporting events. If you have a community college or university in your city, they may allow you to use their facilities. In addition, your city may have recreational facilities that you can rent. Make your way down the list, contacting the representative of each facility to check if permits are available. For school facilities, you’ll need to reach out to the school’s athletic director. For a city-owned venue, talk with the recreation department. If a venue is owned by a private business, talk with the facility manager.

Organize and Raise Money
Running a league costs money. You’ll need to pay for liability insurance, equipment and uniforms, and possibly for officials and the renting of the facilities. Add up all the expenses of running the league so that you can use that information to determine the registration cost for each player. If you need to raise additional money, approach local businesses or your local professional team to see if they’ll act as sponsors. You could also require each team to participate in a fundraiser and bring in a minimum amount of money. Consider charging a minimal fee to those attending games and hosting a snack bar at each game to raise additional funds.

Promote the League and Recruit Help
The success of your league depends on the interest of your local youth. Get the word out by by distributing fliers at schools, youth centers and at coffee shops and other food establishments that families frequent. Create a website for the league. Take out an advertisement in the sports section of your local newspaper. Inquire with your local professional team to see if their players could help promote the league through public appearances. See if the local sports writer will do a story on your league. On the fliers and ads, be sure to note that you’re also looking for coaches, volunteers and, potentially, officials. Consider offering a discount on a kid’s registration when a parent signs up to coach, volunteer or act as an official. If you have the funding, you could also recruit coaches and officials by offering to pay each a stipend. Request the assistance of your local police department to do a background check on all coaches and volunteers.

Register Participants and Create Teams
Design a registration form for parents to sign up their children. Consider offering both printed registration forms and online registration through a registration website service. The information the registration form needs to elicit includes each participant’s name, address, phone number, age, uniform size and emergency contact. Require the registration fee to be paid along with a completed registration form submission. A “Waiver and Release of all Claims and Assumption of Risk” should be included with the registration form. Once you have the youth registered, organize the players into teams and assign each team a coach. Place enough players on each team to accommodate for families regularly being out of town or unavailable so as to limit forfeits. Most coaches will be parents, so be sure to partner the two together.

Organize Schedule and Order Uniforms and Equipment
Create the league’s game schedule and distribute it among the teams. In addition, publish the schedule on the league’s website. For uniforms, start with your local sporting goods store. They will often assist in the ordering and silk-screen printing of the uniforms and provide you with a reduced price. Consider offering them a deal where they put their logo on the uniform in exchange for a discount. If necessary, you can look to order uniforms online. Your sporting goods store will also be able to assist with equipment and may be able to offer a deal on larger orders.

Get Liability Insurance
You’ll need to purchase liability insurance to cover the players, coaches and volunteers of your league. Liability insurance will help cover any legal or medical costs if the league is found responsible for any injuries that occur. Look for insurance companies that specifically offer youth sports insurance.