Bearden’s athletic training program provides students with practical healthcare experience


Tammy Kregel

Bearden athletic trainer Nicole Medina practices treatment with her student assistants.

It is not uncommon to see the rush of a Bearden football game interrupted by a player on the ground with an injury. 

It is also not uncommon to see Nicole Medina rushing onto the field in a matter of seconds afterward, accompanied by several high school assistants. 

Although these trainers are most commonly spotted at Friday night football games, they help all Bearden athletes to minimize the impact of their injuries. 

Medina, the athletic trainer at Bearden, heads a team of four high school students that spend their afternoons and evenings tending to sports injuries and overall athlete well being. 

Bearden’s athletic training student aide program has been in existence since the spring of 2019 when Medina arrived at Bearden. Medina has strived to educate students on the profession of athletic training while encouraging health care overall. 

“It is those opportunities that inspire the next generation of health care providers,” Medina said. 

Students involved in the program spend the most time assisting during football and basketball seasons. After school, students arrive at the football or basketball training offices to begin preparations for practices or games that day. This can include doing first aid, taping, and rehabilitation cases.

Then, they assist with any injuries that may occur during practices or at home games. Some student trainers travel to away games as well. 

Student trainers also have the opportunity to learn practical skills and knowledge that will be useful to them in the program, their daily lives, and their future professions in the medical field. 

“They can expect a behind the scenes view of the role of an AT (athletic trainer) in the high school setting such as strategies for injury prevention, first aid, injury/illness diagnosis, rehabilitation, emergency, care, and communication and decision making skills,” Medina said. “Students can also expect to learn hands-on skills in first aid, the anatomy behind specific sports-related injuries, and to develop the beginnings of a professional identity.”

More than hands-on skills, student trainers are provided with knowledge of medical professions available for them and get opportunities to see those professions in real practice. 

“She’s given us so many opportunities with shadowing within KOC,” senior student trainer Melanie Pascoe said. “We’re given an opportunity with [KOC’s] Dr. [Edwin] Spencer to go with him into surgeries, since we’re 18 now.”

Medina hopes to give them a realistic view of athletic training overall, but she also wants to give her students insight into what the medical field offers. 

“It is not my goal to steer students towards athletic training, just to offer an opportunity to experience what AT has to offer them as an option,” Medina said. 

Added Pascoe: “She’s helped really open up our eyes within the medical field, showed us the ins and outs, what it’s really like to work the job and how much effort.”

Medina says the student athletic training takes up around as much time as a sports team. Something unique to this program is the fact that students get to develop a personal mentor- mentee relationship with Medina, which all have appreciated. 

“I see the powerfully positive impact my students have on our student athletes every day – and on me – and I can’t wait to see the impact they have in the future as they decide where they will go from here,” Medina said. 

As three seniors are leaving the athletic training program at the end of this year, there are open spots to apply to be in the program. The application is available at on the Athletic Trainer tab and requires a GPA of 3.5 or above, a complete application, and two letters of recommendation.