Athletic Training Services Coordinator Jaclyn Donovan has been the head athletic trainer at the Vereen Center since March 2014 and is an avid sports fanatic. Through her leadership and enthusiasm for her job, she has been a prominent influence for the graduating class of 2017.
Donovan has been a part sports all her life, she was a talented softball player in college and continued on to graduate school to pursue her interest in sports medicine. She describes her career as the dream job because she gets paid to do what she loves.
“I love sports, I love being around athletes,” she said. “I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t want to do medical school, so this is a good compromise. I get paid for watching sports, so it’s almost the perfect job and I get to help people along the way.”
Donovan stressed that she thinks the Vereen Center is so special and a necessary service because they offer crucial care and support to young athletes, especially to those that live in a rural community and may not see a doctor regularly.
“We’re able to be there as a first line of defense, but also a first line of care,” said Donovan. “Many of these students and these athletes maybe don’t have a doctor that they go to regularly, so we’re able to provide care to them if they get hurt.”
Donovan has always been involved with sports, but one of her favorite hobbies is skydiving, which she first got a taste of when she saw someone land next to her softball tournament in college. After countless skydiving experiences, she thinks that she gained valuable lessons from it.
“What you learn from skydiving is one that when you’re up in the air you realize how big the world is,” she said. “And you realize there is a lot more out there than just you and your little microcosm of the universe. You learn that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do, there are no divisions in sky diving.”
When relating it to her career, Donovan thinks she can handle any curve ball thrown her way while on the job.
“I figure if I can jump out of a plane then I can handle anything a coach or an athlete might throw at me,” she said.
Donovan refers to their Vereen team as more family orientated than close proximity work place associates, and that they hire based on personality traits as well as certifications.
“Our selection process, it’s really mostly about what fits the best,” she said. “All of our applicants are going to be certified nationally, they’re going to be licensed by the state of Georgia, so skill wise everybody should be on an even playing board. It’s finding the right personality fit for the Vereen family but also for the coaching staff we would be placing them with.”
When it comes to being the head athletic trainer, Donovan likes to be more of a servant leader, someone that her trainers can come to for help, but remains more of a back-up rather than a strict supervisor.
“I don’t want to ask anybody to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself,” she said. “I like to lead by example if I can, but also just be supportive. I don’t like to be a micro manager and breathe down their necks, and the way our program is built these athletic trainers get to spread their wings, if you will, and learn to be an athletic trainer on their own.”
The graduating class consist of four athletic trainers – Lindsey Birchfield, Shannon Hamilton, Warren Roberts and Juan Alonso – who have all surpassed their training by working with a local high school for the past two years. Donovan expresses how proud she is of them and how much they have evolved into competent athletic trainers.
“We want them to be able to survive on their own and succeed on their own and these four have done just that. You don’t have to oversee them at all, because they know their job and they go do it. They have taken the Vereen name out to their schools and established strong athletic training programs. They were the first Vereen representatives at each school and they did an outstanding job.”
Donovan is happy that her four graduates were able to bring the Vereen name to the local schools and stresses how important it is for every school to have an athletic trainer on their staff.
“Ultimately you’ve got kids who just want to play and they want to win and they want to be good at what they do,” she said. “They should be able to do that without worrying about getting hurt, injuries are going to happen but they should have the luxury of an athletic trainer waiting there to take care of them.”
When asked what her vision was for Vereen’s future, Donovan had a lot of plans in store for the center.
“We want to grow and serve as many area schools as possible. There are going to be undergrad education changes coming in the athletic training field, so that’s going to alter how we structure our program in the future,” she said. “We hope to transition it into a residency – hopefully an accredited residency – so that it gives the Vereen Center’s presence on a resume a little higher recognition and disticntion.”