Encouraged by the physical therapist that helped him after he sustained a shoulder injury as a youth playing baseball in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., Ryan Krzyzanowicz decided to become an athletic trainer.
Now an instructor in the biology department for MCLA's athletic training program, Krzyzanowicz comes to campus from Concord University, in Athens, W. Va., where he worked as its football team's athletic trainer for two years.
He and Peter Hoyt, MCLA's athletic training program director, share a vision for the program that has "amazing potential" and will be "unparalleled in the state" because students have the opportunity to work in the performing arts, Krzyzanowicz said."That is very unique to us. We are a young program, so we can pave the way where we want it to go."
The field of athletic training is growing and evolving. Athletic trainers can work in places that range from the from coal mines of West Virginia to the Cirque Du Soleil in Canada.
Another friend of Krzyzanowicz's works for an orthopedic surgeon. "She does casting, initial evaluations, sets up imaging (MRI's, etc.) and develops at-home rehabilitation programs for her patients," he explained.
On Monday, Sept. 19, one of Krzyzanowicz's friends, also an athletic trainer, will speak to MCLA students about her work with New York City's Radio City Rockettes.
"Athletic training is a growing and diverse field," he explained. "Most people think of us as 'ankle tapers.' We do a lot more than that. We are qualified to evaluate and treat any musculoskeletal injury, as well as evaluate general medical illnesses, and we are qualified for rehabilitation of injuries."
While the field was once predominately male, most of those who study to become an athletic trainer now are women, Krzyzanowicz said. They will work with both male and female athletes, and more.
At MCLA, Krzyzanowicz also serves as the Clinical Education Coordinator for the Athletic Training Education Program (ATEP).
"In that role, I set up and maintain all clinical education sites for the students. We are working to get our students into the hospital here in North Adams to work with an emergency room physician, and we will start work with Dance Company here on campus," he explained. "This is the part of the job I enjoy so much - seeing students skills grow clinically from freshman to senior year."
According to Krzyzanowicz, many of his students were athletes in high school who worked with athletic trainers. In MCLA's program, they work hand-in-hand with their instructors.
"They love medicine and athletics so it's usually a good combination for them," he said. "From the first day of classes when we learn how to properly put on and take off blood-soaked gloves, until the last course of therapeutic modalities, every student has a chance to learn with hands-on experience."
Krzyzanowicz earned his master's degree in athletic training education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., which specializes in preparing athletic training educators.