Max Gierczak grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, Illinois, and ended up going to school in Ohio at Bowling Green State University. He moved to South Georgia to work with the Vereen Center and started working at Thomas County Central High School. The atmosphere surrounding sports in South Georgia is unlike any other, and it is a great place to learn more about being an Athletic Trainer. Working with the Vereen Center has offered countless experiences for Gierczak to grow as a trainer.
For Gierczak, the day-to-day at T.C.C. is similar to what many of Vereen’s Athletic Trainers do: He does rehab and therapy treatments for athletes during the school day and attends practices and games after school. The appreciation Gierzcak gets from the athletes and coaching staff is the main reason that he wants to continue on and someday be a full-time Athletic Trainer.
“For the most part, it (my motivation) was knowing that if I wasn’t there to take care of some of these kids, then they might not be able to get back to the game that they love so much as quickly or at all,” Gierczak said. “And seeing that a lot of the kids appreciate it so much of what you do, the little things as much as the big things, (is rewarding).”
Working with the Vereen Center has allowed Gierczak the independence and autonomy that he was looking for. T.C.C. has a great staff of coaches and trainers who allow Gierczak to be the best that he can be as an Athletic Trainer. This incredible learning experience lets him bring his own ideas to the table and also learn from the other trainers and doctors at the Vereen Center.
“So far it’s been a great experience,” Gierczak said. “I love working with the whole coaching staff as well as my partner there, Amelia. We’ve got a great working relationship, and it’s been an eye opening experience to see the things that the Vereen Center and an Athletic Trainer can do at a small town in South Georgia.”
Another rewarding aspect of Gierczak’s job is being able to ease the fears of parents who are worried about their children playing contact sports.
“Another big thing is parents that are not always so sure about their kids playing sports for the first time and going out there on their own and getting hurt; and as parents do, they worry, so it’s nice to be able to give them some reassurance that someone is taking care of them and looking out for them and their well-being on and off the field,” Gierczak said.
Being able to help the athletes with their injuries and rehab is an amazing thing that Gierczak gets to do on a daily basis, but he is always learning more about the job and is going back to school to get his master’s, which is helping him along his path to becoming a full-time Athletic Trainer in charge of his own team. Gierzcak enjoys applying the stuff that he is learning in order to better himself and the program around him, and he would not be able to do that if not for the Vereen Center.
“The Vereen Center so far for me has definitely lived up to my expectations,” Gierczak said. “I love the experience of being on my own at the high school and having a lot of independence there and doing what I want to do on a daily basis, but at the same time being able to bounce my ideas off of other people at the high school, at the clinic, PTs, OTs, other Athletic Trainers, and anybody else that falls in between that. It’s really been a great experience in that I think I’m learning a whole lot every day.”
When Max isn’t tending to his athletes, he enjoys being outdoors. When he is not playing sports or watching sports with his friends, he enjoys hiking and going to national parks. For Gierczak, being outdoors is a great way for him to be able to unplug after a long week, which is important for him because it allows him to get back to his best self before going back in at the start of the next week.
A final tip that Max Gierczak would give to athletes everywhere is to be consistent with exercise.
“Stay persistent with it and keep yourself motivated because you see a lot of people that do great things for just a few weeks and then forget about it, and no real progression is made,” he said. “Staying consistent and keeping yourself motivated is very important.”