Trainer turnover

Department issues updates on search for new trainer

Ambyr Baker

When the former athletic trainer left Hockaday in December, Director of Athletics Deb Surgi and Assistant Director of Athletics Jennifer Johnson began the search for a replacement. So far two candidates have visited campus for full-day interviews for the position.

“Once we found out Coach Geier was leaving, we started updating the job description to what we wanted,” Johnson said. 

The school posted the job to online sites, the largest being the National Athletic Trainers Association website. Others included the National Alliance for Independent Schools, ISAS, National Coalition for Girls Schools and the Hockaday website.

After reviewing the applications that came in, Surgi and Johnson determined potential candidates to invite back for a pre-interview.

“We do this to see what kind of candidate they are, what kind of experience they have, and if it matches with what we need here,” Johnson said. “Based on the pre-interview, we decide who to bring onto campus for the full-day interview.” 

 In addition to the entire athletics staff, the candidates meet with the Head of Middle School, Nicole Christensen, Head of Upper School, Lisa Culbertson and Director of Health Services, Erika Herridge. One full-day interview finalist visited campus in December and the other visited in mid-January.

“Once all of those people meet with the candidate, they submit their feedback and Coach Surgi and I review it to see if the new trainer is a good fit,” Coach Johnson said.

The athletic board and the team captains of all the sports also have a joint meeting to offer student insight and to discuss the candidates’ potential.

Until Surgi and Johnson find a permanent replacement, Hockaday will be in contract with Baylor Scott and White for the rest of this school year. 

“We send them all of our dates and times we need coverage for, and they fill those in,” Johnson said. “We have had a contract athletic trainer since November and they are getting to the point where they are repeating so we see people over and over again.”

Student trainer Mabry Dawson said she misses the normalcy of a consistent athletic trainer. Usually, each student was assigned to a certain sport and did rotations at the games. Dawson anticipates her new schedule when a new trainer is finally hired. 

“This will be my third year as a trainer,” Dawson said. “Coach Geier always had a plan for us so I am looking forward to having an actual schedule again.”

In their search criteria, Surgi and Johnson do not just look for someone who checks the athletic training boxes but also someone who can work as an allround resource.

“We want our students to have someone who knows their personality as well as somebody who is able to observe their practices and their games,” Surgi said. “There needs to be a connection between the athletic trainer, the health center, counselors, division directors, or even parents.”

Surgi adds that an athletic trainer’s role is not just physical but also has a psychological element as well.

“A mental health touchpoint will help us to better serve all of our student athletes,” Surgi said. “The athletic training room tends to be a place where students share things they may not share in other places.” 

The athletic trainer recruitment process is about finding a person to make athletes strong for sport performance and beyond. In this role, the person in this position has potential to be an important resource for the entire school community.