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WC’s first athletic trainer in his dream job

Chris Nelson is living a dream and making history at Weatherford College.

After decades without an athletic trainer, WC contracted with a trainer service to cover the 2009-10 year.  Then, WC officials decided to hire a full-time athletic trainer, and Nelson is the college’s first at that position.

"That's one of the things that turned me on to the job, being able to start a new program," said Nelson, 25. "I was able to set it up how I wanted. It's pretty exciting."
Nelson earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a master’s from the University of Northern Iowa. Then, he got the opportunity to come to Weatherford and wasted no time getting here.
"One of the initial challenges was letting everyone know we have an athletic trainer now at Weatherford College," said Nelson. "A lot of the coaches here have never worked with an athletic trainer before.

"This takes a lot of pressure off of them."

Nelson first fell in love with the idea of being an athletic trainer while playing baseball and taking anatomy classes in high school in Omaha.

"I found out my high school had a trainer. I was very lucky and never got hurt," said Nelson with a laugh. "But I later logged several hundred hours as a student assistant and fell in love with it."

Nelson has two assistants of his own at WC. They help with setup and rehabilitation, cleanup and filing, mostly.

"They're my eyes," said Nelson. I can only be one place at a time."

In addition to helping athletes recover from injuries, Nelson helps them avoid injuries. One way is he teaches a class on the prevention and care of athletic injuries.

He'd also like to turn WC into a pathway for students who want to decide if they'd like to go on to a career as an athletic trainer.

"One of my goals is to start an athletic training program and recruit students," said Nelson. "They can come in work observation hours. It can help them decide if they want to go on to program at a bigger college and turn it into a career."

The days can be long for Nelson, especially during basketball season when he might put in as many as 15 hours on game day. But then, when it's not a job and he's having fun...

"It's very rewarding to tape up an ankle sprain and see an athlete get healthy and return to dunking a basketball," said Nelson.

"Injuries are going to happen. My job is to be there to help when they do."

By Rick Mauch