May

Man for All Seasons

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Like Sir Thomas More, for whom the movie "A Man for All Seasons" is named, David Sloan's commitment and unwavering persistence have served him well. 

While attending Huntingdon Area High School (Pa.), Sloan was an all-star athlete, excelling in soccer and basketball, as well as volleyball — a sport that saw him named to the state championship all-tournament team. So when the former student council president found his way to Reading, Pa., and Alvernia, no one expected he would shrink on the scenic university campus.

And he has not disappointed. The shooting guard for the Crusaders basketball team is thriving in Alvernia's athletic training program. He's also serving as an undergraduate representative on the Alvernia Planning Advisory Council and is even starring in a video about the school's real-world learning focus.

“David is an outgoing student with an amazing personality,” said Kimberly Stoudt, director of athletic training, assistant professor and assistant athletic trainer at Alvernia. “He’s extremely positive. What makes him stand out is his ability to build a positive rapport with anyone almost instantaneously.”

Currently immersed in his senior year clinical experience, he’s working with a wide range of Alvernia sports teams, including softball, soccer and his own basketball squad, to manage training needs and treat injuries. “I would tape myself if I wasn’t so stiff from all the sports injuries I got in high school,” laughs the bearded boy wonder. In fact, it was Sloan’s high school trainer who inspired him to become an athletic trainer.

“I was the kid who got injured all the time in high school, so I got to know our trainer well and to have an appreciation for what athletes have to do in rehab,” says Sloan. “I can tell them: ‘Hey, I know what you’re going through. I know what it’s like to recover, physically and mentally, from shoulder separations and concussions.’ I’ve had plenty of hands-on life lessons.”

A bullish job market for athletic trainers in the United States is one reason why many like Sloan are attracted to the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent increase in the number of jobs for athletic trainers from 2010 to 2020. The projected rise can be attributed to fierce national campaigns to prevent concussions, heat exhaustion and steroid abuse.

Last summer, the would-be trainer trekked across the globe to discover what it means to work in the land down under, as part of an international field experience program Alvernia’s athletic training department offers. “Being exposed to other cultures in Australia and their methods of athletic training reinforced my love and interest in the medical field,” said Sloan.“The experience gave me the deeper understanding of the industry and better prepared me as an athletic trainer,” he explained. While studying abroad, he was able to interact with experts from the Australian National Soccer League and Rugby League at various lectures. Sloan was intrigued by research he learned about — that runners can perform more effectively and safely with shorter, quicker strides. He was also impressed by a cooling vest designed for Australian firemen that he believes could help American football players.

His Aussie hosts were surprised by both the complexity and popularity of his future profession back home. In Australia, says Sloan, sports trainers are mainly concerned with hydration, and do not diagnose or treat injuries. That’s very different from their North American counterparts who diagnose, rehab and regularly work with coaches, surgeons, nutritionists and psychologists.

“We’re equally concerned with productivity and safety,” said Sloan, who plans to earn an MBA in order to gain a better understanding of the business side of the sports industry, bolstering his career in athletic training. “We’re dealing with heads as well as bodies. How can we keep them (athletes) mentally and physically at their highest levels? How can we keep them in the game?” This man for all season believes he knows!

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