Athletic trainers build athletes up with strength training, empathy

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Senior guard Kayla Goth, sophomore guard Rachel Ranke and junior forward Peyton Williams are three recognizable names from Kansas State’s women’s basketball team. A name that many may not be as familiar with is women’s basketball athletic trainer, Becca Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald received her undergraduate degree at Kansas University. Before coming to K-State, she was a trainer for the track, football and basketball programs at Ball State University and KU.

Now, Fitzgerald works side by side with the women’s strength coach, AJ Kloss. Together they decide what treatments and warmups are needed before each day of practice based on the team’s improvements and injuries. Kloss works to build up strength and muscles while Fitzgerald focuses on rehab.

“You hate to have injuries but they’re inevitable,” Fitzgerald said. “We focus on a lot of exercises every day to help prevent the now instead of fixing the future.”

The women’s basketball team has staff behind them all year to help them achieve success and battle through hard times. Rehab, strength training and nutrition are all used to keep the team strong.

“I get to help young people and hopefully make them a better person for the rest of their lives,” Fitzgerald said.

The days are not always easy, especially when the main focus is on rehab.

“It all depends on the day,” Fitzgerald said. “Sometimes it is how they feel, their attitudes, practice changes or coaches expectations. It changes every year.”

Fitzgerald is proactive in helping lead K-State’s women’s team to limit injuries and working behind the scenes.

“I’m still pretty young compared to a lot of athletic trainers but the type of athlete has changed a lot since I’ve started,” Fitzgerald said. “You have to change how you look at things and how you interact. Especially with this generation.”

Williams noted the difference in access to athletic trainers from high school to college.

“In high school, we didn’t have access to the same training and benefits,” Williams said.

Now with access to a strength coach, nutritionist, and help from Fitzgerald, Williams is proactive in preventing injuries and has a trainer to help recover instead of working on her own.

Fitzgerald’s impact does not end with the women’s team, but extends to students as well.

Samantha Clark, junior in kinesiology, is an athletic training student getting hands-on experience with K-State’s athletic program.

“Surprisingly, my favorite memories are all of the small stuff,” Clark said. “Getting to work with athletes one-on-one during daily treatments and see them progress and get better from an injury builds such a cool connection.”

Clark and Fitzgerald both expressed that when working alongside the athletes they are paired with, not only do they see them in the aspect of athletic training and their injury but also who they are as individuals.

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