UD skaters balance sports, rigorous athletic training curriculum
From left, Samantha Riddle, Maggie Berkowitz and Brittany Sullivan.

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1:41 p.m., March 15, 2011----A love of sports and a career in athletic training may seem like a match made in heaven, but it can also mean lots of hellish 14-hour weekdays followed by work-filled weekends.

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Three University of Delaware undergraduates are successfully juggling competitive ice skating and the athletic training major: Senior Samantha Riddle and sophomore Brittany Sullivan are members of UD's collegiate ice skating team, while sophomore Maggie Berkowitz is a synchronized skater.

What does a typical day look like for them? Skate early in the morning. Dash to class. Run to a workout. Rush to the clinic.

“I can't say enough good things about how dedicated and devoted these three students are,” says Thomas Kaminski, professor and coordinator of UD's athletic training education program. “They really epitomize what time management is all about, toeing a fine line between their on- and off-ice training routines with the time demands of their academic program, which includes both classroom and clinical obligations.”

How do they do it? By sticking to a schedule, taking things one at a time, and staying focused.

“You have to have really good time management skills and truly be dedicated to everything you're doing,” Sullivan says. “I make sure I'm focusing on whatever it is I'm doing at any given time. If I'm at the rink, then my mind is 100 percent on skating, and in the training room I'm 100 percent focused on the needs of my athletes. The same goes for when I'm in class.”

All agree that skating fed into their professional interest in athletic training.

“I got hurt many times in high school from skating and running track,” says Berkowitz, “and I spent a lot of time with my high school athletic trainer, who inspired me to pursue this major. I love being in the sports world, and I figured athletic training was a good way to stay in that world after graduation.”

Similarly, Sullivan became interested in the field when she was injured. “After going through physical therapy for a torn ACL, I started working in my high school's athletic training room and discovered my passion for the field,” she says.

Riddle, who says she always knew she wanted to be in a health profession, was initially considering nutrition.

“Then I hurt my back skating in high school at about the time I met Dr. Kaminski, and my career path changed,” she says. “I'm competitive by nature, and athletic training is definitely competitive. No two injuries are the same, and no two athletes are the same. Figuring out what's wrong is like a puzzle -- you have to put all the pieces together, and even then sometimes things don't match up the way you think they would.”

All three have high aspirations. Berkowitz would like to work with a college team, preferably in her hometown of Boston, while Sullivan has her sights set on graduate school and then the NHL.

Riddle wants to work with the U.S. National Figure Skating Team. “I interned with Michael Cook, an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach at one of the top figure skating training centers in the country, this past summer,” she says. “I aspire to be like him.”

Article by Diane Kukich

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