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From athlete to athletic trainer: Danville alumna Jalae Parker stays in the game
Credit: Youngstown State Athletic Training

From athlete to athletic trainer: Danville alumna Jalae Parker stays in the game

DANVILLE, Ill. — Jalae Parker was on the basketball team all four years when she attended Danville High School, and she has found a way to stay actively involved in athletics even though she is not herself competing.

Thanks to a Sports Medicine class she took from Danville High School teacher Dale Hemker, she found her calling.

Credit: Youngstown State Athletic Training

“A Sports Medicine class in high school is a great opportunity for students to be introduced to sports medicine careers early on, particularly athletic training,” says Hemker. “They get a feel for what the career all entails. It is a career where people can continue to enjoy sports, stay involved in them and share the love and care for the game. There have been a handful of students from Danville High School continue on in a sports medicine type career through this class. Jalae was one that was very interested, and you could tell she would prosper and succeed in this career.”

Attending Youngstown State University, Jalae earned her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, and switched programs from Physical Trainer to Athletic Trainer after a convincing introductory class, and after a great clinical rotation at a high school. “I fell in love with it,” Jalae says.

Is a physical trainer really different from an athletic trainer? Absolutely, says Jalae. “Physical Trainers don’t learn a sport-specific rehab. They rehab people back to everyday life. Athletic Trainers will rehab a person back to the high level required of their sport.”

Credit: LikeDavid Productions

Athletic Trainers go through a generalized training, and then they will get on the job training for the specifics of their sport, such as gamekeeper’s thumb in football, where the UCL ligament can be ruptured by repeatedly grabbing a jersey.

Jalae says a misconception of Athletic Trainers is they only work in the field of athletics. “A lot of graduates from YSU work at Amazon for injury prevention, as they lift many heavy packages,” Jalae says.

Due to COVID, Jalae only has two students in her graduating class, which has both benefits and drawbacks. “There is no hiding in the crowd,” she says, “so you need to stay on top of your studies. But you also get more one-on-one time with instructors, so you can hone in on things you are not yet confident on.”

Credit: LikeDavid Productions

What led Jalae to choose YSU over other programs? “It just felt right. There were very nice people, a good environment, a great fit. It is also wonderful to interact with so many of the international athletes. I have learned social cues of different cultures, as well as helping them to understand the culture of the US. I highly recommend YSU. It was just one positive thing on top of another.”

Jalae emphasizes how the YSU program really prepares you for the boards, as well as gives you exposure to places you are not experienced with. “Our Clinical Coordinator is big on inclusiveness. She puts us in places for training that we haven’t seen. I went to a large public high school, so she placed me in a clinic in a private school.”

Credit: Youngstown State Athletic Training

Jalae has been both active and respected in her time at YSU. She is a member of the National Athletic Training Association, VP of the (YSU) Penguins Athletic Training Club, and serves as the Secretary of the Student Senate Board of the Ohio Athletic Training Association.

This Spring, Jalae will finish the two-year grad program to become an AT. Where does she go from there? “I don’t have a specific direction right now. With more experience, I would love to work in a professional league such as baseball, softball or track. Right now I’m leaning towards high school athletics.”

Wherever she goes, you can expect to see Jalae as a champion in, or on, her chosen field.

This is an unedited user writing submission. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Best Version Media or its employees.

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