Aaron Galpert, certified athletic trainer (AT) with the Akron Children’s Hospital Sports Rehab team, has had an amazing career. He’s traveled around the world as an AT with the U.S. National and Olympic soccer teams. He kept Harlem Globetrotters basketball players healthy despite their grueling game and travel schedules. And he’s helped countless young athletes resume the activities they love.
Aaron is approaching 37 years as an AT. This summer in Houston, Texas, he’ll receive the Athletic Trainer Service Award from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). The award recognizes NATA members with at least 20 years of experience for their contributions to the profession and as volunteers at the state/local levels. Aaron is among 3 Ohio recipients of the 2017 award – and 1 of 34 across the country.
“The award was a complete surprise to me, and it’s an honor,” he said. “I love my job. Whether I’m working with a world-class athlete or a high school student, I enjoy the behind-the-scenes process of helping my patients improve.”
From ankle sprains to concussions, the types of sports injuries haven’t changed much over the years. But overuse injuries are becoming more common in young athletes because their bodies don’t have time to rest and heal.
“Kids used to play different sports throughout the year and take some time off between sport seasons. More of today’s athletes play just one sport – and they play it all year long,” Aaron explained. “Not only can this specialization lead to overuse injuries, but kids get burned out playing a sport they once loved.”
Akron Children’s keeps students in the game by provides AT services at 19 local schools. “We’re proud to partner with the schools, working together to keep student-athletes healthy and safe,” Aaron said. “These kids come to us with a sense of trust because they want us to help them get better.
“I just have to remind the high school athletes not to Google their conditions and try to self-diagnose,” he joked. “Nothing beats experience, and I have decades of it.”
As a seasoned veteran, Aaron mentors future ATs who are studying at Kent State University and The University of Akron.
“Athletic training isn’t just about sports – you can find athletic trainers in corporations, the military and performing arts centers,” he said. “March is National Athletic Training Month, and it’s a great time to spread the word about the different environments where ATs work.”
Aaron enjoys golfing in his free time, but his favorite sport is soccer. As he traveled with the national soccer team, he couldn’t help but learn the ins and outs of the sport. “Many people think a 1-0 score is boring, but it’s not,” he shared. “Students of the game understand what’s happening; soccer is about so much more than just scoring goals.”
Regardless of the sports athletes choose, the rewards they reap will last a lifetime. “You learn about the team concept and having a teammate’s back,” Aaron said. “You learn the importance of keeping your body in good shape. You share experiences you’ll always remember, and you build friendships that last a lifetime.”