We're excited to introduce you to our first AT of the Month post! This is our chance to highlight some of the great Athletic Trainers using Healthy Roster.
Today, let us introduce you to our July AT of the Month:
Currently serving as Sports Medicine Director at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenny Wilka received his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Sport Science - Athletic Training from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska in 1999 and his Masters of Education in Curriculum Development from Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin in 2004.
Since joining the UW-Parkside staff in 2009, Kenny has been influential in overhauling the sports medicine department, including developing drug and concussion testing protocols, helping design the new Strength and Conditioning Center and doubling the size of the athletic training staff. Kenny is also active in the Wisconsin Athletic Trainer’s Association, having served as Southeast Regional Representative, President-Elect and President. He is also a recipient of the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers Association Distinguished Service Award.
Described by Healthy Roster’s Director of Customer Success Rob Mottice as a “power user,” Kenny has fully engaged his student athletes with Healthy Roster, utilizing a multitude of our features including tracking physicals and other mandatory athlete documentation with our recently updated Forms section and boasting an adoption rate of 97 percent.
We asked Kenny about his experiences and advice as an athletic trainer and are excited to share his responses:
Why did you become an Athletic Trainer/Sports Medicine Director?
Athletic Training brought two of my passions together, sports and helping others. There is a physicality and intellectual component to this profession that makes me feel accomplished at the end of the day.
Without sharing any Patient Health Information, what is your most memorable moment as an Athletic Trainer?
Every time one of my athletes returns from injury is memorable. There are three athletes over the past 15 plus years that have battled through several significant injuries that brought a smile to my face and worry to my heart when they returned to full participation.
What advice would you give others, either currently in the profession or considering becoming an Athletic Trainer?
When I speak to athletic training students and young professionals I always start off with, “the athletic training profession requires passion.” I explain when deciding to become an athletic trainer, passion is very important because there will be long hours, emotional drain and a moderate salary. Long hours is self-explanatory, except that we typically work early in the morning or late into the night. Emotional drain: as an athletic trainer you build relationships/bonds with your athletes. Empathy is needed when working with athletes going through the stress of injury and recovery. Athletic trainers experience some of the athlete’s emotional ups and downs. In terms of moderate salary, I explain you will not become wealthy as an athletic trainer, but you will be able to support a family. If you think athletic training is cool or an entry profession, you should look for a different path, you will burn out within 3-5 years.
What do you feel people outside of your profession should know about your profession?
We are healthcare professionals who care for the health and safety of our athletes, your sons or daughters. Athletic trainers are skilled individuals who work to prevent, evaluate, manage and rehabilitate injuries.
What is the key to being successful in the world of athletic training and sports medicine?
Balance between your personal life and professional life. It is ok to say no and it’s ok to go home. Never stop learning, seek out knowledge.