For Haley Berry (‘23), one of the two inaugural graduates from Northern Kentucky University’s Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program, pursuing her current career path means paying a good deed forward. While she was an undergraduate student-athlete playing soccer at Malone University in Canton, Ohio, Berry sustained an injury that persisted for all four years.
“My athletic trainer there really put time into working with me and said, ‘We're going to figure out this issue and what's going on with you,’” Berry says. “It made me realize that I’d like to be like her, do what she does and make an impact on other athletes.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science, she chose to enroll at NKU because of its affordable tuition and the ability to apply without having to take the GRE.
Taking the majority of her classes with just one or two other classmates was a surprisingly positive experience.
“That’s really what athletic training is: learning by doing. If we had any questions, our professor was right there going through the answer with us."
“I went to a smaller school for undergrad, so it was pretty normal to have a one-on-one experience with a classmate and my professor,” Berry says. “I feel like, if anything, it really benefited me in the sense of learning athletic training hands-on. It was only me, her and a professor when we would have our labs. That’s really what athletic training is: learning by doing. If we had any questions, our professor was right there going through the answer with us.”
As part of her second-year fall clinical rotation, Berry received the opportunity to work at FC Cincinnati’s academy: a player development program for soccer players ages 12-19.
“That semester, we got to kind of choose where we wanted to go. I wanted to see what professional sports look like, so that’s why I chose FC after going through their interview process,” Berry says. “It was a lot of fun, and I learned a ton from it. And then after completing that rotation, I felt pretty confident coming out of it that I wanted to work with professional soccer. I feel like I learned everything, and I have everything necessary to be an athletic trainer.”
Now that Berry has graduated from the program, she is currently waiting on the results from her Board of Certification (BOC) exam. Her experience at the FC Cincinnati Academy has made her more confident in her chosen career.
“I would love to work with a team in the MLS or NWSL,” she says. “I want to stick with soccer, since that’s my background. To do that, you start at the academy levels, which is the younger kids, and then work your way up to professional soccer.”
Berry recommends that students interested in pursuing work in athletic training approach their education with an open mind. The field offers opportunities to work with many age groups, from pediatric to geriatric patients, as well as many different methods of training.
“Learning from different people, everyone has their own tips and tricks, which is very helpful for you to figure out your own way of doing things,” she says. “I had the same three professors pretty consistently throughout the program, and they’d always take the time to make sure we got what we needed for classes, materials and assignments.”