Speaking in the Jacksonville Jaguars film room to a captivated audience of students from the University of North Florida, Jaguars Head Athletic Trainer Scott Trulock gave some critical advice: “Be process driven — not outcome oriented.” The undergraduates hung on every word from the veteran NFL athletic trainer.
The tour of EverBank Field and the Jaguars training facilities was an added bonus for 10 UNF athletic training students who each received $1,000 scholarships from the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation this year. This was the first year of a five-year commitment from the Foundation and the first athletic training-specific scholarship ever at UNF.
Peter Racine, senior vice president of the Jaguars Foundation, said funding for UNF students is part of the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring safety in youth sports by increasing the availability of certified athletic trainers. “UNF provides an important source of graduates for our initiative,” Racine said. “We are pleased to support these students — wherever their career goals take them after graduation.”
Because of their rigorous schedules, students find the scholarship funds particularly meaningful, said Dr. Michelle Boling, director of UNF’s athletic training program. “They are in class in the morning and have [unpaid] onsite clinicals in the afternoons over their four semesters in the program,” said Boling. “Working is almost impossible for most athletic training students.”
There is a 200-hour minimum every semester for each student at their clinical site, but most students put in many more. “Getting scholarships truly helps to pull everything together,” said Darby Glackin, a graduating senior in the program. “It allows us to focus on the experience we are getting in the field that enriches what we’re already learning in the classroom.”
Students assist in area high schools, for local professional sports teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Armada, for colleges like Flagler College and Jacksonville University, as well as for UNF’s own sports teams. According to Boling, the students attend practices and games and, each semester, rotate to a new location. “It is learning experience,” she said, “so they get to see it all.”
UNF’s accredited athletic training program in the Clinical and Applied Movement Sciences Department in the Brooks College of Health prepares students for the Board of Certification Examination — the gateway to becoming certified athletic trainers and finding careers at secondary schools, colleges and universities, and professional athletic, clinic, hospital, industrial and performing arts settings.
Glackin said the professors in the program want to see students succeed and present a vast amount of information in a way that sticks. “The athletic training program taught me how to be a successful athletic trainer, as well as a confident one, giving me the tools I need to do anything I set my heart on after I graduate,” she said.
Despite their busy schedules, the students all appreciated their special tour of EverBank Field and the opportunity to thank Foundation staff for the scholarships. And for many who dream of a job in professional sports one day, getting advice and insight from Scott Trulock was icing on the cake.
Trulock stressed to the students to study hard, be confident in their training and have faith in their co-workers. “You think you know anatomy until you see some of the injuries on the sidelines,” he told the students during their visit. ”Protocols are so important. You have to rely on those.”
Right now, the students are just grateful for the funding that helps reduce their load and keeps them focused.
“I am humbled that an organization like the Jaguars Foundation would choose to invest in my future and that of other students,” said Shelby Justus, who would like to work as a high school athletic trainer after graduation. “It’s really encouraging for the Jaguars to see such value in athletic training education.”