Sarah Acerbo always pictured herself in some field of medicine and selected athletic training as a way to combine her interests. She played soccer as a youth and again in high school, where she also served as a coach and referee to a girls’ youth team. As a high school student, Acerbo tore her ACL and worked with an enthusiastic athletic trainer, sparking her interest in the field. She enjoys the diversity of athletic training, whether it’s working during an athletic event, assisting with rehabilitation, or helping an athlete through the emotional effect of an injury. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? When I was applying to colleges, UConn was one of the colleges I was most familiar with since I lived so close to the main campus. When I was looking at the athletic training program at UConn, I discovered that it has one of the best kinesiology programs in the country. My high school athletic trainer, Anna, also graduated from the same athletic training program I am in now, and she spoke very highly of it. She also turned out to be a fantastic athletic trainer, and I thought, “Why not apply to a school that graduated such a highly respected health care professional? Maybe I can be as good an athletic trainer as she is.”
Why did you choose your particular major? I always knew I wanted to have some type of career in the medical field, and when I was in high school, I became very passionate and involved in the world of athletics. Athletic training is a career in the world of sports medicine that provided me with the perfect mix between healthcare and sports.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? Working with the UConn football team was one of the most memorable clinical experiences I have had. I experienced athletic training in a highly dynamic and intense work setting. During pre-season, we had to be in the athletic training room at 5 a.m. and did not leave until 7 p.m. that same day, for two weeks straight. I worked with five highly qualified athletic trainers, as well as the rest of the sports medicine team, including the team physician, neurologist, orthopedist, nutritionist, massage therapists, coaches and strength coaches. I learned new therapeutic, taping and evaluation techniques, as well as how to function in this type of highly intense work setting. I also had the opportunity to travel with the UConn football team and experience athletic training while on the road. I really felt like I was a part of the entire football family as well as the entire sports medicine team.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. For the past two summers, I have worked at the Ray Reid Soccer Camps. Working these camps taught me autonomy and really helped build my confidence in my clinical knowledge. Working with the Connecticut Sun WNBA team was also a great experience. I was given the opportunity to work in a professional athletic setting, as well as with a highly qualified and knowledgeable athletic trainer, Jeremy Norman. Jeremy taught me new taping methods and many different evaluation and treatment techniques, such as the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) and Mulligan techniques.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? Time management. Being in this program, you really have to learn to develop your time management skills. As an undergraduate athletic training student, you have classes in the mornings and early afternoon, then you go to clinical rotation where you are helping set up for practice, cover practice and then any additional treatments/rehabs any of the athletes might need. You get home at 7 p.m. and need to study and complete assignments for each of your classes. Then you throw in a handful of other tasks such as grand rounds, program student meetings, class dinners, physical therapy shadow hours, research hours, etc. and you have a full plate. I have learned to love being busy and non-stop. It makes me feel like I am being productive, but it is very important to know how to maintain balance and to have those time management skills.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? The goal is to graduate this upcoming May. I am currently in the process of applying to and interviewing for graduate school. I hope to attend school and receive a graduate assistantship working with a Division I sports team. After that, I would like to continue to work in the Division I collegiate setting.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I am generally a very positive person, and people say I smile too much. I have a passion for fitness and enjoy weight lifting. I have an addiction to coffee, yet it seems like most people in my major do.