Life changes and why I’m leaving athletic training 

Most people who are close to me know that I’ve recently undergone a huge life change (besides that whole growing and giving birth to a human). And the truth is, I’m still coming to terms with it myself, which is why it has taken me until now to write about it. 

After 11 years as an athletic trainer, I have decided to step away from not only a job that I loved very much, but from my career. This is the first time I’ve written that down, so I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. 

So why, if I loved this job, am I walking away? 

Some would say that it’s understandable since I’m now a mom. And yet others, I’m sure, will criticize my decision for that very same reason. To be honest, the raging feminist in me understands those criticisms, as ridiculous as they are. But the reason I am leaving has less to do with my daughter and more to do with a profession that does not lend itself to family life in any way. 

Many people will recall this blog post I wrote 5 years ago. In it, I praised my field and the many amazing opportunities that it has given me. To this day, all of those reasons still ring true. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through this job. Case in point, I never would have met Will were it not for athletic training, and thus Isabelle would not exist either. So I cannot say that I regret the career path I chose, even though it is now coming to an end. 

Athletic training is a selfless profession– it’s one that demands long hours, late nights, early mornings, and holidays. It is one with little to no leniency, where you are at the beck and call of the coaches, administrators and athletes, no matter what. It’s a career that is demanding,often grueling, although rewarding. For someone like me, an empath, each day is an emotional investment, helping athletes through sometimes life altering injuries and recovery. And to be honest, this is why I loved it so much. I loved to connect with people and help them come out the other side in one piece. But this is also why I can’t do it anymore. 

To me, being a good athletic trainer meant giving all of myself to the job, for better or for worse. Athletes had access to me all the time through phone and text, events in my personal life would be missed (this was not by choice though). I became invested in each athlete and each injury on a level where it was hard for me to just walk away at the end of the day. I worried, I missed sleep, I spent hours researching possible outcomes, and I did so at the expense of my own personal time. 

I’m not saying that this is right or wrong, im just saying that this is how I knew how to be an athletic trainer. I couldn’t do it halfway. I couldn’t turn it off at 7 pm. 

But I also know that I wouldn’t be able to continue that and still have enough of myself for myself and my family long term. Yes, the schedule, constant changes due to weather or whim of a coach, late nights and–let’s face it– not nearly enough pay all factored into this decision as well. But beyond all of that, which seems an insurmountable collection of reasons alone, I knew that I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be and the only AT I knew how to be. 

And for all of the shares I get on that old blog post, I hope people read this as well. Because I’m not trying to discourage any young people from becoming athletic trainers, I just want them to be aware of the whole picture when they make that decision. It’s an amazing, gut wrenching, exciting, mentally stimulating, challenging, yet deeply flawed profession. It hurts me to walk away, yet it also feels quite freeing, and I don’t think I’m alone in having these feelings. 

Some out there will criticize the way I practiced. They’ll say I dug myself into a hole and created my own path to burn out. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But I do know that I gave everything to my career for the past 11 years, and now it’s time to refocus. 

So what’s next? Well, along with being a mom, I do have some exciting projects in the proverbial vault, and I’ll let you all in on those in another post very soon. Suffice it to say, I hope for this blog to be a building block for bigger things, and I can’t wait to get started moving forward. 

7 thoughts on “Life changes and why I’m leaving athletic training 

  1. Good luck to you and your future!

  2. As a woman who left a high powered high stress life for MY reasons I send you a high five. The fact that you see you are not into giving what you feel is necessary to the job speaks volumes to your connection with your intuition. I’m happy that you are following your heart and forging a new path. I wish you luck, joy, and success.


  3. good for you for realizing the change that you needed/wanted to make- excited to see how things go for you! Your little baby girl is SO stinkin cute!!

  4. Well said. Some jobs/careers just don’t lend themselves well to family life. One of our family friends just closed his successful restaurant after over 10 years because he was missing out on too much at home. I had actually looked into becoming a trainer at one point but family time is non-negotiable for me. Good for you for making the best decision for you and your girlie. Best of luck with the new career!

  5. I cannot express how much I love and respect this honest post, as I am also an athletic trainer who recently left the profession. When I first started following your blog after reading your original post on athletic training, I was 1 1/2 years into my first job as a high school athletic trainer and loving every minute of it (I had also just started heavy lifting as well so this blog was super helpful! 🙂 ). After five years, however, I was struggling with many of the same reasons you listed above. So last fall I left and started grad school for dietetics and I am so excited to blend my sports medicine background with my future degree. Working as an athletic trainer was so rewarding and I am proud to look back on all that I did. I believe in the profession, I am proud to say I am an athletic trainer, and the thought of letting my credentials lapse is unimaginable, but as you said, it is a deeply flawed profession. For those continue in athletic training, I have nothing but respect and gratitude for them, but for me I knew I could not do it any longer. Thank you for your honesty and representing the profession so well! I look forward to following your adventures and accomplishments to come!

    1. I know this is probably very late but fell compelled to reply. I completely understand, agree with your decision.
      I have been an ATC for almost 30 years and left the field 11 years ago to practice in a office setting. I missed making a difference in these young athletes lives, but I had to choose food, roof and taking care of my daughter to. The money is just a down right shame. Men are compensated more for same or less education and experience. Boggles my mind that this far down the road and we are still discussing these very issues. Something got lost in the translation of making this a profession and telling us what we needed to do, but forgot to tell us we would be paid peanuts for our efforts. Love, dedication and passion does not provide the need for survival. I commend you for making the decision to leave and hope you are happy and I know for sure you will develop an amazing relationship with your daughter.

    2. Thank you all for sharing your stories. I have been an ATC for 10+ years, with 7 years in a college setting and 2 years in a doctors office. Since then my husband and I have moved to germany where I haven’t worked as an ATC but I still have my credentials. I miss certain aspects of it, like the rehab and the wellness. But I vow to never go back to 24/7, nights weekends holidays and being at the whim of a coach with half my education and training and 10x as much ruthless cruelty.
      Which leads me to this blog post via a google search. I know it’s time for a change. I have been volunteering a local Wellness center which does counseling bod pod measurements, VO2, Metabolic testing with the military. It was great but unfortunately couldn’t get a job bc of my status (non mil). Anyway I moved on to Substitute teaching just to make a little extra money and still be flexible enough to travel around europe. So… Now what? We are moving to the UK in a month and dont know where to go from here. Back to subbing? More eduction? Another credential I have to keep paying CEU’s for? I had my CSCS but let it laps it was too much to keep up with that and ATC while over seas.
      I toss around wellness coaching or training… part of me wants to start my own side business but I just dont know where to go or start.
      Thanks for letting me vent !

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