The Train Keeps Rolling

Erin Ulrich assists a player with an injury

Hidden in the depths of the athletic training room is Erin Ulrich’s office. The room itself resembles an actual clinic, complete with examination tables, anatomical models, therapeutic hot and cold whirlpools, and busy students rushing to complete their tasks. It’s a frenetic environment, but it’s one that Ulrich, head athletic trainer, has become used to dealing with. A line of students outside of her door, clamoring for feedback, attests to the fact that her work is just as academic as it is athletic.

In fact, the reason that she pursued a career at Lebanon Valley College was because she valued the balance between the two. 

“I think that education is important to the overall growth of an athlete,” Ulrich said.

Besides fielding student concerns and assisting in rehabilitation efforts, Ulrich has been especially busy lately. Lebanon Valley College is hoping to receive accreditation in the field of athletic training, something that she believes the College is already well on its way to obtaining. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, or CAATE, has decreed that, by 2019, all institutions offering athletic training degrees must have master’s programs. Similar to the six year Physical Therapy program, LVC established a five-year athletic training regime last fall under the leadership of Dr. Joe Murphy, director and assistant professor of athletic training. It’s an initiative that Ulrich has found herself closely entwined with on a daily basis.

Ulrich is no stranger to the dynamics of a liberal arts education. She cites her time at Eastern University as the catalyst for her epiphany that education and athletics can—and should be—balanced. The modern approach to athletic training is far more integrated than the “traditional” 1,500 hours of internships that Ulrich went through, now emphasizing quality over quantity. As she works on developing the program, she seeks to dispel misconceptions about the program.

“They should know that we are setting the bar high, and even though we’re still in the early stages, they are going to be graduating from a top notch program,” she said.

It’s a credible claim to make considering that all students enrolled in the athletic training program will have to run the gauntlet of core science classes before moving on to field experience. After all, students will have to be properly equipped to deal with the myriad of injuries that could befall an athlete. However, in her years as an athletic trainer, Ulrich has found the greatest satisfaction in working behind the scenes to help athletes literally and figuratively get back on their feet.

With just less than 600 student athletes and the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams recently moving into the NCAA, Ulrich certainly has her work cut out for her on the best day. However, after six years of experience as an athletic trainer at LVC, she’s ready to see the school grow with her. As one of three AT staff at the College, she recognizes that there is a severe need for change; both to assist student athletes and ensure that students enrolled in the new program are up to the challenge.