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Alum directs sports medicine at Williams

01/01/2014

An internship at Williams College that Rodd Lanoue '98 served during his senior year here turned out to be a foreshadowing of what was to come. He's now the director of sports medicine at Williams - in the same position his mentor once held.

Lanoue first was introduced to athletic training as a high school student in his hometown of Adams, Mass., when one of the College's athletic training students was assigned to work at Hoosac Valley High School, where he played soccer, basketball and ran track.

"It made a lot of sense to marry my love of athletics with my interest in the sciences," he said.

However, when Lanoue attended school at MCLA - then North Adams State College - in 1994, the road to a career as an athletic trainer meant earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a concentration in sports medicine.

"Back then, the route to becoming an athletic trainer included 1,500 hours of experience in the field, which meant we all spent a lot of time in the athletic training room and on the sidelines," he explained.

After graduation, Lanoue headed to Western Michigan University, where he was offered a position as a graduate assistant while he earned his master's degree. He went on to work at nearby Kellogg Community College as its head trainer, and at Delta College in the eastern part of Michigan as an assistant professor of physical education.

A job opportunity at Williams brought him back to the Berkshires, and he ultimately was hired as an assistant athletic trainer - a position he held for four years before he became Williams' interim director of sports medicine in 2011-12. He officially assumed the position in fall 2012.

What's the best part of being an athletic trainer? For Lanoue, it's the relationships he develops with the student-athletes. "You really feel like you're part of the team, and hang on the edge of your seat with every make or miss." 

The athletic training profession continues to grow as Certified Athletic Trainers become more recognized as highly skilled health-care providers. 

"We wear many hats," Lanoue said. "We're responsible for injury prevention, immediate care, injury evaluation, rehabilitation and conditioning, as well as education and administration. Although we're not as specialized in the individual fields, we commonly perform duties associated with EMTs and physical therapists, and our injury evaluations are very similar to those of an orthopedic physician."

Lanoue, who also serves as a preceptor (or "clinical site educator") for MCLA's athletic training program, assigns one of our athletic training students each semester to work with him at Williams, which offers 32 varsity sports. As a result, these students have the opportunity to work in a Division III setting Lanoue says is similar to the size and scope of many Division I institutions.

He predicts the profession will expand - particularly in the high school setting where injuries like concussions require the attention of a qualified healthcare professional.

According to Lanoue, MCLA is a great place to study athletic training. Aside from being a great school, he said, MCLA has the advantage of being one of the few institutions in the region with an accredited athletic training major.

"For students looking to stay close to home, or for those looking for a college opportunity in a beautiful and unique region, the Berkshires are an obvious choice."