Sean Goheen (Host) 00:00:01
Greeting scholars and welcome to Following the Gong, a podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.
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Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar Alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar Alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rang the gone and graduated with honors and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Goheen, class of 2011, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
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Sean 00:00:55 Katy Poole, class of 2011 is a senior athletic trainer at the University of Kentucky where she works with the National Championship Women's Volleyball Team and serves as a leader in their athletic department, overseeing training for the gymnastics and golf teams. Katy graduated from State College Area High School and shares her experiences coming to Penn State with a focus on becoming an athletic trainer by earning her Bachelor of science in kinesiology with honors. She provides an in-depth look at this healthcare field from the undergraduate through professional levels. Katy also offers advice that can be helpful to any scholar on overcoming early academic struggles, finding the right path, adapting to other universities for graduate school, and the importance of cultivating relationships. You can read Katy's full bio and a more detailed breakdown in the episode topics in the show notes on your podcast app.
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Sean 00:01:45 Joining me here today from Historic Memorial Coliseum in the heart of the bluegrass is my friend and national championship winning athletic trainer, Katy Poole. Katy, thanks for coming on. Before we get into athletic training and your days in Royal Blue though, I want to start of course with your time in Navy blue at Penn State, and I imagine your reason for coming to Penn State generally is probably relatable to some of our students from Center County. But I wanna hear what exactly brought you here and what also brought you to the Honors College as a student.
Katy 00:02:13 Sure. Well first of all, thanks for having me on Sean. Uh, it's good to be back and talk about my time at Navy Blue. I grew up right by the Waffle Shop on Blue Course, so very close to campus. Um, so Penn State was really in my blood from the get-go. I looked at some other colleges senior year of high school, but didn't consider any of them seriously. It is Penn State was sort of always a given for me. Um, what was not always a given for me was even applying or thinking about Schreyer. Um, I had a good friend in the grade above me who asked about it when we were talking about college applications and I laughed at her and then I went and asked my parents, Hey, should I think about applying to Schreyer? And they kinda laughed too. And I went and asked my guidance counselor and they kind of said, well, maybe, but we don't know.
Katy 00:02:59 Um, obviously being from state high, a ton of people that are applied to Schreyer as well, many of whom had far better grades than I did in high school and significantly better SS a T scores than I did. But thankfully my friend was persistent and sort of convinced me and I was said, well, what the heck? I'll give it a try. And I got accepted and I have thought about that a lot since then because especially now that I work with college age people, just about the power of encouraging people to reach sort of outside their comfort zone. I don't think at the time that I 100% this played out as, you know, um, later in my schreyer career. But I don't think I 100% fit the bill academically for Schreyer right off the bat or at least in the way that it was so obvious for a lot of other people. Um, I think I really fit the bill again, being reflective of what it is that they were probably looking for, for the, you know, being engaged in my community and learning and serving and uh, helping others. So more from a fit standpoint. I think that was sort of my niche and what sort of helped me get in. Thankfully I did and thankfully that friend was persistent. Shout out to Bonnie plo if she's listening to the podcast. And so yeah, Atherton Hall there I was. And
Sean 00:04:13 Katy, you had mentioned uh, before the show that obviously you've gone on, you've been very successful, you graduated with honors. You wouldn't be on this podcast if you hadn't, but your first year was a little rough. Could you talk about that experience because I think there's a pressure for scholars to just do everything and I have to have the 4.0 and that's not true. You can mess up a little bit along the way and still rebound. Can you talk about your experience with that?
Katy 00:04:37 Yeah, absolutely. So I think, I guess I should clarify one other point from my previous story is that my grades weren't bad necessarily coming out of high school. I just, you know, was not the person that was getting fives on all of my AP tests. So my, when I first started out, I knew always that my interest lied in athletic training, but I wanted to keep the door open if I down the road changed my mind and wanted to go to med medical school. And I think that was opened even more or I let that door open even more because right, so many people at the time that I was in SCHREYER were, everyone wanted to go to medical school or you know, law school or something sort of a big illustrious career when you think of it in that way. And so my first year I took a lot of really hard science classes that I didn't necessarily need for athletic training, you know, like two and some of my sort of basic gen EDSS that I struggled with more than a lot of my honors college peers and my first semester it wasn't bad but it wasn't great and it wasn't schreyer standards necessarily.
Katy 00:05:40 I think I missed the G P A cutoff grade by like 0.1 or something like that, no big deal. My second semester I still had not really grasped what worked best for me in terms of studying. I still was not in any athletic training or like kinesiology specific classes. It was a lot of the more traditional science classes. Um, and I was starting to get more involved with things on campus and on, and it did not go well <laugh>, it was really bad. And so I ended up obviously not meeting the G P A requirement that semester as well. Got my letter saying that I was on academic probation and if I wanted to I could fight it, but otherwise I was gonna be let go so to speak, from the, from the Schreyer Honors College. And so I thankfully went and worked with Judy Osmond who was a savior and she and I sort of talked through a lot of things.
Katy 00:06:31 I wrote my appeal and she sort of walked me through it and that next I took a few summer classes, gen ed, English and things like that. But that next fall, once I really got into like, okay, these, now I'm in KINESE classes, I'm in some athletic training classes, this is a lot more applicable and makes a lot more sense to me in my brain. It just, it totally changed the game for me. And once I was around in classes with a lot of other students that weren't in the honors college, I guess, and I didn't feel quite as much pressure to try and keep up, if that makes sense. It just became a lot easier. That burden sort of was lifted and it was, it's a lot easier right, to learn and study and care about things that you are passionate about. So it was that once I got into that and was able to focus a lot on, on that, it really sort of changed the game. And thankfully my G P A rose to the occasion as well, so I was able to stick around. They didn't, they couldn't get rid of me quite yet, which was good 'cause I lived in Atherton for two years.
Sean 00:07:30 I'm glad that worked out for you too. Obviously you've had a very great career since. And I wanna hear about, you know, you found your niche as you said in athletic training and before we hit record we were just trying to talk about state college and you immediately pulled up a memory about crushing a different elementary school in volleyball in fifth grade. So you've been a very competitive person, you've probably played a lot of sports. Can you talk us through kind of your athletic history and what drew you, not to coaching but to athletic training, which is an integral part of the athletic experience for obviously athletes? Yeah,
Katy 00:08:05 So grew up, I just have always, I grew up playing volleyball. I've always been very, very athletically oriented. I wouldn't say I've been super athletic, but I have always wanted to be really athletic, um, and really interested in sports. So I played volleyball, basketball, softball, sort of all through the state college pipelines, really up until high school. The thing that sort of got me interested in volleyball right away was being from state college, smaller town. My parents were friends with, uh, a coach Rose. So my mom took me to a volleyball game once when I was seven, was hooked. Coach was nice enough to be like, oh, just bring her by practice sometime. So one day after elementary school, my mom and I go, we walk into South gym at rec hall and coach was like, yeah, just come hang out at practice whenever you want to.
Katy 00:08:52 And so from that point on, once or twice a week after school, I would, instead of going to the Y M C A, I would go to rec hall and I would run around the gym and shag volleyballs and interact with the team. And it really just sort of, I mean from that point on, I have been hooked on the sport ever since I became interested in athletic training through a combination of things. One, when I was at these practices, one of the people that was always in the gym was Dan Eck, who at the time was the athletic trainer for uh, Penn State's volleyball team. So I just talked to him a bunch growing up and knew what he did and he got to go to volleyball practice every day. How cool was that? So it became interesting to me from that standpoint. And then in high school I not only continued my volleyball career, but I really, my injury career really took off. So tore my A C l, had some shoulder injuries and became a lot more interested in the science of human movement and how that played out. So I knew pretty early on that I wanted to to do athletic training and stuck with it. Now
Sean 00:09:49 We're gonna pivot away from the athletic training for just a minute. You mentioned earlier you were involved in THON and you were also on the homecoming court. As a scholar, how did you balance being involved in different things on campus with the expectations of classwork and especially once you got your G P A back up, um, you said hosted the occasion and, and your requirements for working presumably with the volleyball team in a more professional capacity once you were on campus?
Katy 00:10:18 So I think for me, one thing that was really helpful, and I I really credit Schreyer and the kinesiology honors advisors that I was working with at the time is there were a few core kinesiology classes that are considered some of the tougher ones. You know, it's kines three 50 and 360. So exercise fizz and neuro. And I am not sure why, but I am thankful that I did. I took those as a sophomore and most athletic training students at the time were waiting until their senior year to take those. And that ended up benefiting me a lot because I had had sort of those like big block of tough classes out of the way and was able to focus on my thesis research, but also being involved on campus. And because I had done a lot of that, I, I remember really vividly going into my senior year being like, okay, I'm, I'm really involved in athletics.
Katy 00:11:11 I've done thaw, I've been on operations committees, I have, you know, done, I've danced for Springfield Thaw, I was involved with Springfield, but like what else I have to be able to like give back or be a part of. I'm going into my senior year, my last sort of prah and it ended up that I was eventually tapped into Lion's Paw and it sort of, it just was odd that I was sitting there thinking like, oh my gosh, I, I need one more thing. Like I want one more thing to really give back and embrace my senior year. And that sort of worked out. And the reason I bring it up is that was how I got sort of involved with Homecoming, the people aspect of it. Um, obviously court was a whole other process, but that sort of opened my eyes to all these organizations on campus that I wasn't super familiar with.
Katy 00:11:53 So yeah, I'm sure that there were times where my athletic training people felt I was not doing a good job of balancing all of my extracurriculars. But really for me, especially senior year, it was just about embracing everything that Penn State had to offer. And you get into the groove, you know, okay, here I am with my research. I feel like I'm in a good place with that. Here I am with my athletic obligations and like I just wanna spend any and all free time that I have take making the most of my last couple months at Penn State.
Sean 00:12:23 You're not the first guest on here to emphasize, you know, you're only a college student once, enjoy what you have at Happy Valley or in at Barron or in Abington or Middletown or wherever your campus is at. So enjoy, enjoy that time 'cause you don't get it back. Now you mentioned being involved in athletics. Correct me if I'm wrong, you were essentially like a student trainer. How did you get involved in that and what advice would you have for students who wanna get involved with volleyball or any of the other 30 varsity teams or countless club and Im opportunities that we have here at University Park.
Katy 00:12:56 So the way that it was structured when I went and athletic training recently has undergone sort of a giant shift in how they are certified. But for us old people who got certified, um, before this shift happened, it has recently shifted to an entry-level master's to become certified. When I was an undergrad, you took the certification exam at the end of undergrad. So the way it was structured at that point was you took an intro to athletic training class and they would assign you, not necessarily a certain team, but a certain athletic training room. So in rec hall and east area at the Bryce Jordan Center with, and you would work with all of the teams in that area and you would sort of get exposed to the athletic training room. And it really is twofold. One, it helps them see, hey, can this person cut it?
Katy 00:13:38 Do they show up on time, are they willing to do what we're asking them to do? But it also helps you see, is this what I want to do, you know, if they're telling you to be at the Bryce Jordan Center at 6:00 AM to help set up for prac or 5:30 AM to help set up for 6:00 AM practice, it can weed some people out <laugh> if you don't want that. So you do that for about a semester and you just get exposed to a lot of other aspects, I guess, of the athletic department. Once you were accepted into the program, you got assigned a team and you were with that team for the semester. So not just a an athletic training room, but a, a specific team which allows you to integrate, I guess a little more with each team and what they've got going on.
Katy 00:14:15 So, um, I worked with soccer, I worked with, um, women's lacrosse was an awesome opportunity for me. And then obviously men's and women's volleyball and because of relationships that I had established with, you know, women's volleyball previously, but also I happened to be assigned to them my first semester in the program. And even with, you know, women's LA lacrosse later on, those people always left the door open for me to go back. So if I wanted, you know, extra experience with something or you know, I was with baseball and their hours were a little more flexible on days that women's lacrosse was playing, I could always just go and help out some more. And at that that point I just wanted to be exposed to and learn as much as I could. So I took advantage of that.
Sean 00:14:55 And it sounds like you built relationships with the staffs there on those different teams and that's what helped keep those doors open. Is that, is that fair to say? Yeah,
Katy 00:15:03 100%. I still keep in contact with the Hel family. Uh, Tara was an assistant for the women's lacrosse team when I was there. Dennis was an assistant for volleyball, so I, I knew them through that. They left Penn State for a little bit and then they came back to Penn State for a little bit and Tara I think now is coaching high school lacrosse and people always think that I know that family really well because of of Dennis, which is true. But it's also because of relationship that I built Tara through women's lacrosse. And I think especially, I mean in life, yes, but especially in athletics, relationships make all of the difference. You know, if you are able to invest in people, other people as much as you are in yourself, then it benefits you a lot in the long run.
Sean 00:15:43 I think that was some really solid advice that Katy just shared there. So make sure, probably if you don't take anything else from this conversation that might be one of the things you want to take but obviously keep listening 'cause there's a lot more to talk about here. And one of the things to talk about Katy is the thesis. You've mentioned it a couple times and you shared what your topic was. Did that come from your practical experiences with the different athletic teams here?
Katy 00:16:05 Yes, definitely. So I, it was very specific. I am quite positive that I was the only scholar, at least at the time, writing about different knee taping techniques. But yeah, they, I worked in the athletic training sports medicine research lab and I worked with, uh, John Viro who is still still there and does a lot of really good work. And yeah, it came from the clinical side of, you know, you see all these athletes and a lot of 'em have knee pain and there are some traditional ways of, of taping the knee and at the time kinesio tape or K tape or rock tape or whatever brands you wanna use, but that everybody knows it's got all the funky designs and that sort of thing was really sort of coming up, but there wasn't a lot of research on it. And what it actually did, the tape for people who haven't seen it is it feels almost fabricy so it doesn't move or manipulate a joint in the way that a lot of other traditional tapings do. And so we wanted to take a look at it. So we, we looked at that and its effect on pain when we had people do certain tasks and there was another, uh, scholar there who was looking at uh, muscle activation, I believe of their quad during the same thing. So yeah, it was interesting.
Sean 00:17:16 And I'm sure that the results from that are probably something you still use to this day, I imagine. Yes,
Katy 00:17:21 We, and you know, people are curious and they should be curious about their healthcare. So when we use Kinesio tape in a clinical setting now people will always say, well what does this do? And I don't think that they're quite prepared for the litany of response that I give them because little do they know, I've written a whole thesis about it. But yeah, it has benefited me over and over again just to, to have that knowledge. I was glad that I picked a research topic that translated so closely with what I actually do on a day-to-day basis.
Sean 00:17:47 That's a common theme here on this show in addition to relationships, is with the thesis, it typically, I've heard, I've had a few folks who are like, I wanna pick something completely different just to get a different experience. But a lot of faults, like you Katy, say, you know, you've gotta be passionate about it 'cause it can be a grind getting through that process. So if it's something useful to you, something you care about makes it a lot easier. Yes. Which is also relatable to grad school. Uh, you went to grad school for something that I, I don't wanna say it's like a traditional grad program and that you're probably not gonna go for a PhD eventually in, in this field. It's also not an M B A or JD or an MD like those professional degrees are. Can you tell us about that search process of how you went about looking at grad schools and even to decide that you wanted to go to grad school? 'cause now it sounds like you have to, but at the time you didn't have to. Can you talk about that? So
Katy 00:18:36 Yeah, you're right now you have to go to grad school to be a certified athletic trainer to be able to sit for the certification exam. At the time you did not have to, but something that I knew that I was interested in, and I think that Schreyer really instilled in me was just this, I wanted to keep learning and I actually liked the research. There were a lot of days I did not like the research process, but I, I liked it. I liked having a question and you know, trying to find an answer for it. So when I looked at grad schools, I only picked grad schools that I knew would make me have to write another thesis. I do not know why I did that to myself, but I did. And really three, three schools sort of emerged for being well-known for giving a high level like Power five clinical experience and also a really high level research intensive graduate program.
Katy 00:19:23 And those were U N C U V A and UK and I was signed SEAL delivered going to U V A. I had talked to their program director, I really liked 'em. Um, I knew that they had the chance to have an opening for graduate assistant torque, specifically with volleyball. And that was sort of what I wanted to do obviously. And their program was only a year, so I was like, let's do it. That's gonna be great. Um, and I got a call from Dr. Carl Matta who is at uh, U N C Greensboro now, but at the time was the program director at uk and he um, he was like, well just come visit, come on down, uh, see if you like it. And I did and I did really like it and I found myself more curious about it. It felt, and you can attest to this Sean, 'cause you spent some time in Lexington, but it felt kind of like a bigger version of state college.
Katy 00:20:11 It's not big and overwhelming but is bigger than state college. Um, but it just, it felt homey and yeah, so I just like totally pivoted and called U V A and was like, Hey, I actually think I'm not gonna come. I'm gonna go to the University of Kentucky and instead, and I, I did have a phone call in that process from Coach Rose who had heard that I was sort of back and forth on a decision and he had called to say that he knew Craig Skinner the head volleyball coach here and that he was a really great guy and he would work for him. So there you go.
Sean 00:20:41 I would definitely echo everything you just said about Lexington. I love state college, I love Lexington and definitely a, a great town and I've described it in the same way. It is a larger version of state college and with uh, a little bit more barbecue options I would say.
Katy 00:20:54 Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
Sean 00:20:56 And so you obviously did two years of grad school there, you got your master's. What ended up, like how did you navigate that job search process? Because there's lots of athletic departments, there's hundreds if not thousands of NCAA programs across the country, N A I a lots of options, but you stayed right where you went to school. Yep. How'd that work out?
Katy 00:21:16 I knew, again, to your point of earlier when we were talking about being competitive, I just, I'm always, I've always been really competitive. I've always liked large scale division one athletics that it is motivating for me as a clinician to constantly be trying to get better and make my team, uh, better in the way that I'm able to do that. And it just, it's a motivating environment really. 'cause everybody is kind of wired that way. Like, okay, how do we be the best? How do we be the best? So I knew that that was sort of the environment that I wanted to be in. Obviously the volleyball piece was important to me as well. And I happened to, part of this is fortune, part of this goes back to investing in people and relationships. But I got a little bit lucky with timing because as I was graduating from grad school and you started to see this shift where a lot of bigger athletic departments were transitioning from graduate assistant athletic trainers that would be in charge of their teams to, okay, now our next step is providing a lot of these, especially Olympic sports, their own full-time athletic trainer who is hopefully around for more than just a year or two and is able to devote more of their time to this specific, whatever specific sport it is.
Katy 00:22:26 You see in volleyball, you've seen it a lot, um, in gymnastics, soccer. So there's just been a lot of growth in the profession in that way. So I got a little fortunate with timing that Kentucky was looking to make that tradition right as I was graduating and finishing up my assistantship and I just had really invested in Kentucky volleyball and the Kentucky Athletic Department and bought into the athletic department and their vision and those people and also, uh, Craig and what he was trying to build with Kentucky volleyball. That was super exciting for me. You know, Penn State won the national championship my four years in college. So I came from a program that won four natters and ended up at this program that I could tell was just trying to, at the time, break through and we just, we were trying to win the s e c. That was our biggest, biggest goal. And it, it was cool. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to help build that. Um, so it was a pretty easy decision once the, it became clear that that might be an option. I thought I was gonna move to Lexington for two years and leave. And now I've been here for 12.
Sean 00:23:22 We're pretty good way into our conversation here, but I wanna take a, a quick step back million dollar question. You maybe we watch the games on tv, we go to Beaver Stadium or Kroger Field for a football game, B j C Rina, what exactly is an athletic trainer? Can you define exactly what your job is? Sure.
Katy 00:23:40 So for people who ask that who have recently been to a sporting event, the story that I always tell is like when somebody gets hurt and somebody runs out onto the field to see if they're okay, that's an athletic trainer. But what an athletic trainer is, is an allied healthcare profession. And we oversee and are responsible for all of the healthcare operations within the populations that we work with, especially if you're a collegiate athletic trainer, whether that's in the D two, D three D one setting. So we work on the prevention, the assessment, the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries and your experiences. And I guess expertise can differ depending on the setting that you, in. Athletic training is growing a lot as a profession. People are starting to realize the value of athletic trainers and the knowledge base that we have. So their Toyota is a really good example.
Katy 00:24:29 They employ athletic trainers to come in and they look at the ergonomics and biomechanics of what they're asking their factory workers to do. So you can have athletic trainers in a lot of different settings because the knowledge base is so applicable, right? Everybody wants to feel good while they're doing what they do to make money or play a sport or whatever it is. So yeah, it's an, it's an allied healthcare profession. We are in no way related to physical training. I think that's the number one probably misconception is you say you're an athletic trainer and people are like, oh, you must be in such good shape. I can assure you that I'm not. Um, and I have nothing to do with our team's strength and conditioning. I work very closely with our team strength and conditioning coach. But yeah, it's a, it's a healthcare profession.
Sean 00:25:08 I think that helps a lot and knowing that there's a difference between PT and athletic training and the strength and conditioning. Now it's kind of a a another one of these deep career questions here for you. Katy, can you walk us through, I originally wrote a day in the life, but I realize that's probably a silly question. So can you maybe a day and a season in the life of an athletic trainer, especially at the collegiate level, and you work not just with volleyball but with other sports that are based out of the coliseum. Can you talk about as well if there are differences between those sports in the seasons and how that works for you as as their trainer? So pretty
Katy 00:25:42 Much anywhere the team goes, I go. So I am at all of our practices, all of our strength and conditioning sessions, um, and all of our matches, whether the, the, those are home or away. So that's sort of the, the baseline is I'm at all of that, um, in terms of a schedule. And then the rest of the schedule really depends on class schedules on if somebody gets hurt, sort of what we've got going on. If an athlete has just had surgery. So if we have an athlete who is working through a relatively minor injury, I may have them come in in the morning, do some rehab and some treatment before they go on their way to class. I might go to the doctor with another athlete who got hurt maybe the day before in practice or has something going on and then come back about an hour, hour and a half before practice.
Katy 00:26:31 We'll do pre-practice treatments, try and uh, get the team ready to play, tape their ankles, all that kind of thing. And then during practice I'm in the gym just sort of watching how people are moving, sharing volleyballs but but also trying to get a feel for what we're doing in practice that day, the volume and how can I then on the back end of practice go about setting up recovery for our team. So I work really closely with our strength and conditioning coach. I work really closely with our nutritionists and then obviously under the supervision of our team physicians and just sort of think about what can I do to maximize how our team feels so that they ultimately can play their best. And I'd say where this has grown the most is we also are their first step of contact for um, mental health as well.
Katy 00:27:18 For a lot of, a lot of teams and a lot of athletes. I tell recruits when I meet with them, I tell our athletes at the beginning of every season, my goal is for you to feel the best that you can mentally, physically, emotionally. So we're sort of there for first stop. So when you're an 18 year old kid and you're in college and you wake up for the first time and you don't feel well, nine outta 10 people call their mom to probably be like, what do I do now? And I would say the one out of 10 are collegiate athletes who call me and say what now what. So yeah, I sort of worked through that journey with them and then senior year hopefully I've helped people realize that they need to take some ownership of their healthcare and helped 'em transition to the real world. That's
Sean 00:27:55 Really, really helpful to hear. I didn't realize about the mental health and that's great about that transitioning out. 'cause especially in the sports that you work with, probably not a lot of them are turning pro even at a, a really good program like yours and at Penn State, not many people are playing volleyball professionally. So it's good to be able to take that and that learning there too. So it's also an educational role that you have. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, you have the women's gymnastics team and one other team. Do you see differences across the sports and how that works?
Katy 00:28:23 Yeah, I have some. I've been involved with gymnastics and the golf team since I've been here. Right now it's just sort of in an oversight role because like I said, they, Olympic sports has sort of expanded so they've hired their their own uh, full-time athletic trainer as well. So it's sort of been supervisory the last few years. I think the biggest difference other than schedule because gymnastics is a winter sport, volleyball is a fall, sport is one of the things I like the most about athletic training is biomechanically. The demands of all of these sports are really different. So what gymnasts can do and the way that they are able to move their body and the sy the body systems that they use and the ranges of motion that they put their body through are really different and quite impossible for some of the athletes that I work with who are, you know, six five.
Katy 00:29:06 So for me, I think the biggest component of that is just looking at what are the demands of the sport biomechanically, what do, what does each athlete need to be successful? And you sort of go from there. But I guess the biggest place that comes into play is in a rehab setting. So my rehab for a gymnast is gonna look really different for my than my rehab for volleyball. Volleyball has to jump a lot more times than gymnastics does. Gymnastics is a lot more explosive in some ways than volleyball is. You know, your shoulder situation is really different for bars than it is to serve volleyball. So that's sort of the fun challenge I guess of working different sports and if you can find athletic trainers who are interested in a very specific sport and have worked in a specific sport for a long time, I think you'll start to see that area of expertise sort of grow over time. Yeah,
Sean 00:29:57 Absolutely. You become like the subject matter expert on this is how volleyball player moves, this is how a football player, you know, the quarterback, our motions, that different thing. Obviously there's other paths you can take in athletic training. You focused on collegiate athletics. Could you talk quickly about what are some of the other paths that scholars could take if they want to go in athletic training but maybe they want a little bit of a different path
Katy 00:30:19 One way to do that or to at least stay involved with athletic training? I have a lot of friends that, especially through grad school at UK, have decided that they really like the research portion of athletic training. They're a lot of interesting thing about athletic training research is it's so applicable clinically, right? So it's really easy to translate, okay, I'm gonna look at interventions for this and see if it decreases ankle sprains in this population. And that is a very easy crossover as opposed to somebody who's in a lab looking at maybe cellular data, which is super, super important. But it's just a really tiny piece of a much larger puzzle most likely. So I have a lot of friends that have stayed in athletic training and have pursued uh, their PhD or just stayed in as research assistants. We have uh, sports medicine, uh, research institute that has, was just started a few years back at Kentucky.
Katy 00:31:12 They do a lot of really good research. It's actually run by Nick Ebner who was uh, is a Penn State grad. He was a senior uh, when I was a sophomore at Penn State. So there are a lot of people that do a lot of good research. That's one avenue. I have a lot of friends who have decided that they wanted to be high school athletic trainers so they wanted to work in a more traditional clinical setting and they love it. Their hours are a little bit different than than mine. Um, they probably have to deal with a few more parents than I have to to deal with, but they get a variety of sports. You know, I'm volleyball pretty much all the time 24 7 and they get to work with a different age group. They get to work with different sports. So the value of athletic training is starting, like I said earlier, to be noticed a lot more across the board. And there are a lot of really cool and interesting and unique opportunities for athletic training. So you really can, can do anything you want with it.
Sean 00:32:02 That is awesome. Now going back specifically to the collegiate space here Katy, anyone who even is tangentially aware of sports headlines know that coaches in particular come and go all the time, you know, this coach is on the hot seat, yada yada, especially you know, there's assistant coaches and and graduate assistants. What is it like for you as a trainer and how do you adapt to working with new coaches and other athletic staff that come and go that could be helpful for students, you know, navigating new bosses or new team members in any job? I
Katy 00:32:32 Think one of the most unique things about Kentucky and we just talked about this, we have had a lot of longevity in our coaches at Kentucky, a lot more than a lot of other places. And one of those people is Craig Skinner who's our head volleyball coach and he has been here for longer than I have been. I think he came in 2003 or along those lines maybe. Sorry Craig. I'm getting that wrong. And our staff has really sort of been together for a long period of time. We've had a few assistants leave for head coaching roles, um, or get out of coaching, but our staff really hasn't had as much turnover, which is nice and just sort of reaffirms what I said earlier about Kentucky, that it's a place that invests in its people and it's a special environment and atmosphere. So I would say one of the things that I pride myself in is, especially with somebody who spends so much time with the student athletes, right?
Katy 00:33:24 The coaches have hour limits. They can be in the gym with people for 20 hours a week. There's no hour limit for how much I can interact with our team. The coaching staff can't be with the volleyball team at all other than camps in the summer. I have unlimited access to them in the summer and they're all working out all summer long. So I see them a lot. It's really just trying to be a constant for when there is turnover and change is okay, how can I support our team through this? Are there certain people that are struggling more than others are the change and then being adaptable in my style and for what they need from me, the coaching staff, but then also being able to support the people that I serve, which are student athletes. We're
Sean 00:34:01 Recording this in August. Uh, so the season's not quite underway yet when uh, at the time recording it'll be well underway. By the time you're listening to this normal years, you probably have a good routine. But one thing that you could not have expected, 'cause no one did, was a global pandemic. Obviously your role, you are right up working on people your on your student athletes. You talked about taping ankles and knees and wrists. How did that affect your work and how have you adjusted back as it seems to move in? I'm not any kind of epidemiologist, but it seems like we're moving to an endemic phase and and slowly getting back to some sense of normal. Talk about how Covid impacted your personal career work and and the broader athletic training field.
Katy 00:34:43 Yeah, um, it was a nightmare, um, to put it frankly. So I think, I mean obviously the pandemic affected a lot of people in a lot of ways and it was incredibly difficult for healthcare workers across the board, whether that was physical therapists who maybe had to take some time off work because their clinics were shutting down to doctors and nurses who were incredibly overworked in larger settings. For us it was interesting because we do not have a very strong background knowledge in infectious disease. You know, we work pretty singularly in the musculoskeletal department and so we had to learn a lot quickly. You also had to be adaptable because rules and guidelines are constantly changing and both from A C D C and a federal level, but it's different state to state. You know, you might be trying to travel with your team to one state where they have a mask mandate and your state doesn't or vice versa and then it's different at each school, right?
Katy 00:35:35 So there are rules for on campus the and guidelines and testing requirements and stuff for each campus that might be different. Um, so for us it was difficult. And I guess I get the other piece of that is at a conference level, right? So the S E C handled covid in my opinion very well, but very differently from the Big 10 initially. You know, the Big 10 took an approach where they were gonna do rapid antigen testing and they were gonna test almost daily the S E c, we used P C R testing, we tested our high risk sports football basketballs, volleyball, um, I believe the soccers were included in that three times a week. So it was just constantly adapting. But all of our athletic training staff for our teams had to sort of take on this extra role. In the beginning of the pandemic, we were trained in covid testing and how to administer the tests.
Katy 00:36:22 So we were testing all of our teams. Um, we had to be trained and do a lot of legwork and contact tracing and what does that entail? So you're really sort of trying to manage all of it, you know, and you really could drive yourself crazy sitting there trying to monitor are you wearing a mask, are you washing your hands, are you doing this? Are you staying away from people that you're supposed to be staying away with outside of the gym? And for us at least with volleyball, it was really unique because we knew how special our team could be. And so there was sort of an added pressure of we know that this team could be really good this year. We just need the chance to play. So it was sort of an added pressure I guess from athletic training in that sense for anybody whose team was at a high level and trying to function at a high level.
Katy 00:37:03 For me personally and my career path, it took a little bit of an additional twist because the first weekend the s e c used a, um, third party testings, uh, group so that every school was using the same testing group. Nobody could say like, well Alabama's testers don't swab the same way that Kentucky's do or whatever. And we worked with them for about one week and my boss called me and he turned it over to me and he said, you're gonna run this and you're gonna be in charge of our covid operation. He was on the s e c medical task force and and dealing with the regulations and keeping up with all the research and that sort of thing. And so for our on the ground c ovid 19 response and testing, um, I oversaw all of that for everybody in the athletic department, admin, all of our athletic teams. And it was a lot. So it was a really unique opportunity. I learned a ton about myself, I learned a ton about administration and organization and everything. I'm not sad that it has ended, um, and that we are transitioning to an endemic phase, but it affected athletic training substantially. And then on top of that sort of that extra layer of responsibility that I was given, it certainly affected my last two years quite heavily.
Sean 00:38:14 Well I think you have a great answer to, well, tell me about a, a time that you had to solve a big problem <laugh>.
Katy 00:38:19 Yeah, that's definitely, I will forever be able to answer that uh, question though.
Sean 00:38:23 No, you mentioned the s e c obviously, uh, UK is in that conference. Penn state's part of the Big 10. So what is it like being at another large nationally known athletic brand after your time at Penn State? How do you, and this is something I always try to, to balance myself when I was at uk, how do you balance your pride in dear old state and being a part of what you refer to as the big Blue Nation? Yes,
Katy 00:38:46 That was hard. It took me probably 18 months to two years before I was able to stop saying we in reference to Penn State especially. 'cause I was, that's my hometown, right? So I would just say, oh well we used to do and somebody would always say Penn State. And I'm like, yes, sorry. Penn State used to do so before I was able to think of myself as we uk Um, the passion of the fan bases I think is similar and it's one of the things that I love about it is it's just the environment and the love and the loyalty for both of those schools is so similar that the feeling of that is so similar to me that I, I love it. It's, it's part of what keeps me in collegiate athletics. Um, when I got here, like I said, Penn State had just come off of four volleyball national championships.
Katy 00:39:31 So I did not share my undying love for Penn State volleyball quite as much as I probably was used to because nobody wanted to hear about at that point, you know, they're like a dynasty. It's like Patriots football, people are sick of hearing about them. Um, so I didn't talk a ton about that. Um, I was able to brag about Penn State football quite a bit, um, because at the time Kentucky football was yikes. They are now of course since on the up and up. My worst nightmares happened when they played each other in the Citrus Bowl or whatever a few years ago. So it's been fun. I haven't had too many issues where things have overlapped with each other. Yeah, it's been, it's been fun. The shades of blue are, are just a little bit different. Everybody has a undergrad institution and most people are proud of it. And so it's just part of what makes working in college athletics fun is there's gotta be a little trash talk, right? It's not college athletics if there's not. So,
Sean 00:40:20 You know, I asked that question 'cause so many of our scholars go onto grad programs generally at other institutions like Ohio State and Michigan and Northwestern and some of our other rival institutions. And so, you know, that's always kind of an interesting dynamic to have is like, okay, I'm at this other place and I used to cheer against them, but especially you being in athletics.
Katy 00:40:36 Yes. One of our, one of my good friends here is from, she went to undergrad at Ohio State and is from Ohio. So she and I go back and forth pretty heatedly during football season especially. But yeah, it's, you know, it's part of it. I don't wear any of Penn State clothing in our athletics facilities. I usually save those for the off days or around my house, but other than that it hasn't been too difficult.
Sean 00:40:56 That's it for that Citrus Bowl day. That was, that was a rough day. My household, I'm sure it was for you too, with you and your friends and family <laugh>. I,
Katy 00:41:03 I stayed alone in my house that day. I had chances to go to the game. I had groups of friends in Lexington that were watching and I thought it is best for everyone if I just watch this game alone on my couch. So that is what I did.
Sean 00:41:14 Now, practical question here for students. What skills or experiences could they any students be looking to get now if they want to pursue a career in athletic training? Now we may have already covered this with the question about some of the clinical experiences, but is there anything else that they could be doing besides those classes and internships?
Katy 00:41:31 Don't be afraid to email people that you think have a job that you're interested in. And I guess that really goes for anybody but in athletic training, if you say, let's say I wanna be a football athletic trainer or basketball athletic trainer, find local ones, maybe they're Penn State affiliated, maybe it's at a high school. And ask if you can job shadow and just go and see what it's about to A, make sure that it's something you want to do. But b, you just get exposed to a lot of different, uh, sports and people and styles of athletic training. So from a clinical standpoint, I think just exposure to as many different things as you can. Athletic training is a healthcare profession. My job is to make my team feel the best that they can so that they can play the best that they can.
Katy 00:42:11 That's really hard to do if you are not people-centric and not willing to do everything in your power to help other people. So I think the biggest skill there is are you adaptable to whatever is gonna be thrown at you because athletic training is constantly changing and you never know when somebody's gonna get hurt or somebody's gonna change practice or people wanna do something different and people feel vulnerable when they get hurt. And so your ability to interact with all different people because you're, especially if you wanna work in a collegiate setting, you're gonna get all sorts of different people and your, you're just ability to invest in other people. I think it's really important and probably your biggest non-clinical skill that comes into play the most.
Sean 00:42:53 Absolutely. I interviewed a physician assistant on here a few episodes back and she talked about like when you're interacting with them, especially if they're injured, they're probably at one of their lower points. So having that empathy and and working on those skills is a great point. We talked about what scholars to be doing. If you're actually an athletic trainer, what does professional development look like for you? Because the science is probably constantly being updated. Yep.
Katy 00:43:13 Constantly. So athletic training has continuing ed class, uh, continuing education requirements similar to any other uh, healthcare profession. So there are a lot of different national conferences. Um, you can go to the National Convention for Athletic Training, you can go to a Collegiate Athletic Trainers Society. They've got professional football, athletic trainers, societies, there are athletic training societies in every state. So you can do a lot of professional development through those. And then to your point, the science is constantly evolving. Everyone's looking for ways to feel better faster. And so I think you've seen this a lot, especially in like soft tissue. People are starting to get a lot more into myofascial decompression or cupping or some sort of instrument assisted, assisted soft tissue mobilization, like a Graston or scraping tool, um, dry needling, that sort of thing. And just constantly trying to learn, okay, what are some tools in my toolbox that I can continue to add? You know, if you can add one a year, by the time you've been doing this for 10 years, you've got a pretty good set of tools at your disposal to to help people. If one thing works for somebody, it might not work for somebody else and you've got other options
Sean 00:44:25 And then taking care of yourself. Last question. That's very specific to athletic training here. How do you balance or try to find balance during a season? Especially for a sport where you're traveling for midweek matches and you've got early morning practices, late night sessions. How do you even try to find some sense of balance during, during a season when you're focused on one specific sport?
Katy 00:44:51 Um, I think you have to be able to make the most of the little time that you have and find things that you like to do. So for me, I really like to cook. I love to listen to music. Um, I collect vinyl records so I like to do those little tiny things if I have a chance to. Um, one of the benefits of working in athletics is you're typically around a group of people that also like to work out. And so for me, I feel a lot better. I feel clear mentally if it's a day that I'm able to get a workout in the downside of athletic training in a lot of people's minds is that it's not a traditional nine to five. I think that you can also turn that into a positive because it's not a traditional nine to five. The hours are so scattered sometimes and so demanding at other times that it is not uncommon for any of our athletic training staff to leave at 11:00 AM and say, oh I'm gonna go work out for an hour. And you know, that's not something that a lot of people can do with their job is leave in the middle of what most people would consider Workday. But if your team practiced at 6:00 AM then you might be done by 11:00 AM. I think just trying to make the most of whatever time you have available to you and find little things that keep you grounded. That
Sean 00:45:59 Is great advice. And finally here Katy, here's a chance for you to brag a little bit as we alluded to in the introduction. What would you say is your biggest success to date? Definitely
Katy 00:46:08 Winning the national championship. Obviously in collegiate athletics. That's the goal for any team at the end of the year. Uh, I alluded to it a little bit early on, but we knew going into 2020 that our team was really special and had all the pieces to do that. We won the s e C for the first time in a really long time back in 2017. And we just felt like since that year we had been building and been building and sort of knocking on the door, we knew we had the team to do it in 2020, which is part of the reason the pandemic really affected us because it was like, we have worked so hard for this and now we're looking at a time when we might not even be able to play. They might not even give us a chance to play. So for us, obviously winning the national championship was incredibly special. Um, and was the biggest accomplishment to do it in a pandemic year technically, or the 2020 national champions. But we won it in April because they had moved all the fall championships to the spring. So our season was a year long. We battled with Covid and a lot of other stuff. So that is certainly the biggest accomplishment it would be anyway. But to do it in a pandemic year, it was really pretty significant.
Sean 00:47:13 Absolutely. I would imagine at UK you probably have three goals throughout the season, right? Beat U of L Yes. Win the s e c. Yes. Win the Natty and
Katy 00:47:20 Absolutely.
Sean 00:47:20 And your senior class that year, if I'm right, didn't not win the s e c. That's
Katy 00:47:25 Yes. They graduated with four Ss, e C championships and a national championship. So not too shabby.
Sean 00:47:31 No, not at all. Definitely reminds you of the, the Penn State dynasty you were alluding to earlier from the, from our time in school.
Katy 00:47:37 Absolutely. Yeah. And we were the first SS e c team. Volleyball was the only NCAA championship of the sports at the s e c sponsors that had not ever won. So we were the first team in the s e C also to ever win the volleyball national championship, which was kind of fun 'cause you watched Florida, you know, just dominate the league for so, so long. So it was a little fun to sneak in there before them.
Sean 00:47:59 And for those of you who obviously are Big 10 more familiar with UK UF is certainly a pretty big rivalry in many a sport. Uh, so I'm sure that probably felt pretty good too. But on the flip side, Katy, what would you say was your biggest transformational learning moment in your career so far in what you learned from that?
Katy 00:48:16 I think definitely the pandemic. I mean, it's an easy answer and we talked about that a little bit, but I just, you had to take a total step back. You couldn't plan ahead for anything. 'cause things were constantly changing. So it just forced you to develop adaptability to a lot of different scenarios because you, you know, you sort of had all these what if scenarios in the back of your head and you would try and make plans for them and then something would come along and ruin everything that you had planned. So I think I, that's probably where I learned the most over the course of the last two years. I was certainly the most tired that I have been in my career throughout the last two years as well. But definitely the area of, of learning the most and the most growth probably for me.
Sean 00:48:58 Speaking of learning and growing, how do you approach mentorship both as a mentor and as a mentee?
Katy 00:49:04 I think as a mentee, the biggest thing is just continue to ask questions. Don't be afraid to sound dumb. Don't be afraid to put yourself in a room where you feel like you maybe don't necessarily belong, because you're gonna learn the most that way and you only grow when you are uncomfortable. So don't be afraid to, to get involved and be around and ask a lot of questions. From a mentorship perspective, I think, you know, the, the people aspect is important. Getting to know the people that you work with, it can be really specific to, Hey, this is how I operate clinically as a volleyball athletic trainer, and these are some things that have helped me. But I also think a piece of it is the not your non-clinical skills, your empathy, your adaptability and, and working through a lot of that as well. So just trying to make yourself available and be as transparent and open as you can. You gotta like what you do, but the end game also is to grow your profession, right. And to hopefully you're adding into something that will be sustained once you are done doing it. So how do you leave athletic training in better hands than you found it?
Sean 00:50:09 You've mentioned quite a few folks throughout our conversation today, but is there any other professors or friends from your days here at University Park that you wanted to give a shout out to? I
Katy 00:50:20 Have to. I mean, I, I mentioned, uh, Judy Osmond on the front end, so I have to give a shout out to her because she worked through a, a lot of my academic probation issues with me my first year. And it was helpful that I felt like I, not everybody in the honors college had given up on me, so to speak. Um, it was nice to feel like I had somebody in my corner, so she certainly won Dr. John Biro. Johnny b kinesiology was a big one for me. I was fortunate. My high school athletic trainer, uh, Allison Kresky was also an adjunct professor at Penn State in athletic training, so she and I have worked together a lot. Uh, we still keep in really close contact. So those are probably three of, I guess, the biggest players, so to speak. And certainly my academic journey.
Sean 00:51:01 And I think you touched on something really important there. You know, you took the effort to reach out to Dr. Osme who, uh, was on the staff at the time, come talk to us who are here now. You know, if you're experiencing a, a challenge or a problem, come talk to us here in Atherton or Simmons or, or, you know, book a time online with us if you're at a campus or on a different part of University Park and you don't wanna walk over from say, west Halls, but Trump talked to us in some form or fashion, and we can try to help you. Like some of our past staff helped Katy when, um, she needed it. As we're wrapping up, do you have a last piece of advice that you wanted to share for students generally for potential athletic trainers that really wanted to share but just didn't come up in our conversation on its own? Yeah,
Katy 00:51:43 Um, I think, and we, I've, I know I've touched on pieces of this, but for any of my Ted Lasso fans out there, um, highly recommend if you don't watch it, but Ted lasso on Apple tv, shout out, our assistant coach just hung up a quote in his office earlier this week and it reminded me of it, but it says, be curious, not judgmental. And when it boils down to it, I think one that makes you the best that you can be, whether it's clinically as an athletic trainer, whether it's as a doctor, whether it's as a lawyer, right? If you're curious about how do I get better, how do I constantly be the best that I can be? How are other things maybe that I'm not trying? Whether that's doing research, whether that's asking your peers, whether that's asking somebody that you have met, like, Hey, how do I get better?
Katy 00:52:25 Not assuming you have all the answers. I think curiosity can really benefit you in that way. And the flip side of that is you have to be curious about other people, what drives them, what motivates them. Um, you really cannot do many things in this world on your own. And even if you could, I promise it's better if you do it with others, um, if you're invested in other people and their process and what your bigger goal is. So that's really easy to say when you work with a team and that's sort of built in, but really anything can be a team when you, when you look at it. So be curious, not judgmental. Ted Lasso slash Katy Pool
Sean 00:53:01 Reminds me of, uh, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Scott, exactly. <laugh>, definitely check out Ted Lasso. This is not sponsored, we're not being paid to recommend it, but a great show, uh, if you have access to Apple tv, uh, Katy and I both recommend that. Now, if a scholar wanted to reach out to you and pick your brain on any of the different things we've talked about today from your involvement on campus to athletic training to going to an s e c school, how can they connect with you?
Katy 00:53:23 Um, the easiest way is probably honestly through direct message on either, uh, Twitter or Instagram. And through that I'm happy to give my email to people and connect with them that way. But definitely on, uh, Twitter or Instagram, my handle is just my name. So pretty easy to find Katy with a y pull with an E Yeah, on either of those, those ways. And I will do my best to get back to you.
Sean 00:53:46 And finally, as a tradition here, if you were a flavor Burke Creamery ice cream, not your favorite, but if you were a flavor, which would you be? And most importantly as a scholar alum, why would you be that flavor? So I
Katy 00:53:58 Did a deep dive into all of the flavors that you sent me, Sean, to try to prepare for this. And it sounds like, first of all, there are a lot more than when I left. It is my favorite, but I think I would be, anyway, peanut butter swirl. It's just a timeless classic. Um, you get a little bit of sweet, a little bit of salty. I tend to be a, a little quick witted and can, you know, throw some zingers at you so you know, you might get a giant mouthful of peanut butter and it might be a little salty, but it evens out. Eventually you get a, a little hug from the, the sweetness of the vanilla. So peanut butter swirl. That's it for me. There is no other flavor. I talk about it at Naum, probably to the people here in Lexington. That
Sean 00:54:38 Is a great choice. I was a little surprised you didn't go with the Russ Rose flavor, but I think you had a very good rationale for the one that you picked, and you certainly did your homework just like a scholar. So I appreciate that both,
Katy 00:54:50 Both are good flavors.
Sean 00:54:51 Well, thank you for joining me here today, Katy, national Championship winning athletic trainer at the University of Kentucky for their women's volleyball program. Shameless plug, go state as well. But good luck in your season when you're hearing this. We'll be deep into conference play for both Penn State and Kentucky respectively at the time of airing. But good luck on your season and thank you so much for joining us and sharing all of your advice here today on following the Gong.
Katy 00:55:17 Yeah, thanks Sean. Thanks for having me.
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Sean 00:55:26 Thank you Scholars for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show proudly supports the Schreyer Honors College Emergency Fund, benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at raise.psu.edu/schreyer. Please be sure to hit the relevant subscribe, like, or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the College on Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date on news, events, and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or are a Scholar Alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on Following the Gong, please connect with me at [email protected]
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