Empowering Excellence: Breaking Barriers in Football Athletic Training

Published: September 11, 2023 | Author: Lexi Carter | Read Time: 5 minutes

Assistant paints face of football player

Southern Utah University's football program is known for its rigorous training regimen, dedication to improvement, and unwavering commitment to producing top-tier athletes. A remarkable transformation is occurring behind the scenes, one that is changing the narrative of sports medicine and leadership within the sport. The Thunderbirds have an all-female athletic training staff, led by Jessie Abbott, a trailblazing force in her field. Abbott is spearheading an evolution that highlights the power of inclusivity, perseverance, and dedication to outstanding performance. Abbott's leadership on and off the field is a beacon of progress, breaking down barriers, and setting a new standard for women in football's medical teams.

Southern Utah Director of Athletics Doug Knuth Said

"Jessie Abbott's journey to becoming the lead athletic trainer for our football team is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence. Her ability to break through gender barriers and her dedication to building trust and rapport with our athletes have been truly remarkable. Jessie's leadership exemplifies the qualities we hold dear at Southern Utah University: inclusivity, perseverance, and a commitment to empowering excellence. She is not just a trailblazer in her field; she's a role model for our entire athletic community."

Born and raised in Utah, Abbott's affinity for sports and medicine led her to embark on a journey that has culminated in her current role as the lead athletic trainer for Southern Utah University's football team. In an exclusive interview, Abbott shared her experiences, motivations, and challenges, giving insight into the extraordinary work of the Southern Utah Football Training staff.

Abbott's journey began at SUU, where she pursued her Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Her fervor for sports and medicine guided her towards the field of athletic training. "I always wanted to be involved in medicine of some sort," Abbott explained. "But I really like being involved in the high intensity and the excitement that comes with athletics and the ever-changing and ever-growing field that it is. So, that led me to athletic training, and I've loved it ever since."

The journey to lead athletic trainer was not a linear one for Abbott. Initially, she hadn't planned on a career in collegiate athletic training. "Truthfully, I didn't know I wanted to do collegiate athletic training when I started," she candidly admitted. However, an enlightening full football rotation as a student ignited a passion within her for the college setting, particularly with the football team. "I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would," she noted. With this, her odyssey into the intricate world of football athletic training began.

Breaking down gender barriers has been an important facet of Abbott's story. In a field historically dominated by men, Abbott represents the changing landscape of athletic training. She acknowledged the gradual shift in the gender composition of athletic training programs, with more women entering the field. "I think it's a shift that I've seen," she shared.

Transitioning into her role as the lead athletic trainer for the football team, Abbott recognized the significance of her presence in a male-dominated environment. "It offers a new perspective for the team," she said. "It's nice to have some tough love but also a little more nurturing side. It goes a long way with the players since they're so used to being yelled at."

Trainer gives water to SUU football player at ASU game

Abbott's leadership extends beyond her role as an athletic trainer. As she leads an all-female staff, she is committed to mentoring and preparing them for the demanding challenges they face. Abbott's approach involves empowering her staff to find their voice and assert themselves in a traditionally male-dominated space. "Helping them gain that confidence and helping them assert their way onto the field," she emphasized.

Deputy Athletic Director for External Operations Marie Tuite expressed pride in Abbott and her staff saying, "Women love Division I college football just as much as our male counterparts. However, Jessie and her staff haven't seen many female role models. We are thrilled that SUU provides her and others the opportunity to shine."

Navigating an all-female staff within a football team brings its own set of challenges. Abbott is dedicated to fostering an environment where the players and staff can adapt and understand each other's boundaries. It's a delicate balance that requires both sides to learn, grow, and adapt. "We've had to learn how to shift ourselves to working with all males," she explained.

Abbott's experience extends beyond football. She has worked with a multitude of teams on campus, providing her with unique insights into the intricacies of each sport's demands. "There's obviously similarities between each team," she reflected. Football, with its high player count and intense nature, has taught her to be alert, and always ready for a moment that demands her expertise.

For Abbott, the most rewarding aspect of her role is building genuine relationships with the athletes. "They're not just another number, another athlete. I actually care about them; they're my athletes," she expressed. She finds immense satisfaction in helping athletes overcome injuries and achieve their goals, no matter how seemingly trivial.

Trainers and players at ASU football game

As game day approaches, Abbott and her team spring into action. The meticulous preparation involves coordinating various aspects, from medical supplies to hydration strategies. She acknowledges that the role goes beyond textbook knowledge. Building trust and rapport with the coaches and athletes is what sets her team apart.

Abbott's journey has taught her valuable lessons. Looking back, she would offer herself a reassuring message: "It all works out and happens for a reason, and you are capable of it." Abbott's career trajectory might not have followed a conventional path, but her relentless dedication and tenacity have made her a remarkable trailblazer in the world of athletic training.

As the Southern Utah University football program continues to strive for excellence on the field, Abbott's exemplary leadership off the field, serves as a shining symbol of progress, shattering obstacles and establishing a fresh benchmark for women in football's medical staff. With each game, each athlete she heals, and each barrier she crosses, Jessie Abbott is championing a future where gender does not limit opportunity.

Tags: CurStu Athletic Training Athletics

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