What it means to be an athletic trainer


Head athletic trainer Scott Barker working with an athlete alongside his assistant, Halie Hall Photo credit: Karina Cope

Behind the scenes in the world of athletics, there is a group of hard working, dedicated individuals that keep the athletes we admire in top physical health. They are the athletic trainers and they serve as the backbone of any athletic department.

Chico State is lucky enough to have Scott Barker as their head athletic trainer. Barker has been working with Chico State athletes since 1990.

Barker developed an interest in athletic training when he was in high school. He went down to the athletic training office at University of Arizona and spoke with their head athletic trainer at the time.

Barker remembers that when he told the trainer that he wanted to be an athletic trainer “He just stopped writing, and he looked up at me, and he kind of looked me up and down, and he said, ‘Do you even know what the heck an athletic trainer is?’ And I said, ‘No, but I think I want to be one.'”

To this day, Barker says he doesn’t know why Lee gave him a chance, but Lee offered Barker the opportunity to water the grass for the entire spring football season. After the season was over, Barker returned for the fall, whereupon Lee took Barker under his wing and exposed Barker to the field of athletic training.

As Chico State’s head athletic trainer, Barker’s job is to help evaluate athletes, their injuries and any emotional problems that may arise as a result of their physical issues. Barker helps individuals deal with their injuries and puts them on a recovery plan, whether their estimated recovery time is two months or two years.

“The most important part for me is (that) every single day, someone’s going to walk through that door that I didn’t plan on when I showed up to work today, and some un-anticipated event is going to happen today,” Barker said.

Most athletic training revolves around the treatment process. The process is both physical and mental, as players are deprived of the sport they love while recovering.

“As athletic trainers, we get to work with our student athletes at the whole range; from their highest high to their lowest low and that injury that happens takes them away from their passion and what they love to do,” Barker said. “We get to help them through that process. Far and away, the best, most satisfying thing as an athletic trainer is when you get all the way through that, we get to watch them play again the sport they’re passionate about and know that we helped them through this whole cycle.”

Barker and his newly hired assistant Halie Hall travel across the country for Chico State road games.

“Something severe could happen at any moment,” Barker said. “Then it’s our game day where we must be on point to do the right thing at the right time.”

Both Barker and Hall are former athletes who have always had a passion for sports. When their athletic careers came to an end, they knew they wanted to stay involved in sports. Athletic training provides the perfect combination of medicine applied to sport.

“Athletic training is about the medicine, it’s just that our patients are athletes,” Barker said.

With stellar athletic trainers like Barker and Hall, our Wildcat athletes are undoubtedly in good hands.

Karina Cope can be reached at [email protected] or @KarinaICope on Twitter.