March is National Athletic Training Month, but at Access Sports Medicine, we’re proud to celebrate the incredible work of our outstanding athletic trainer (AT) team throughout the entire year. They work exceptionally hard to reduce injuries, shorten rehabilitation time, and prevent re-injury for student-athletes at nine schools throughout the Seacoast, each and every day.
During this special month, we wanted to spotlight our fantastic Athletic Trainer, Heidi Kirby, who has been working on the sidelines for over 20 years.
When Heidi started school, she originally planned to become a physical therapist, but her older sister convinced her to switch to AT school—which blossomed into a career she fell in love with as soon as she started.
After graduating, Heidi worked as both an industrial and college-level athletic trainer before moving to New Hampshire to work for Access Sports Medicine at Exeter High School as their head trainer, a role she’s held for over 10 years. She’s quick to mention that getting to work with the great students there has been her favorite part of coming to work each day during her tenure there.
“I enjoy being there through their journey and return to sport after injury. I am so happy to see their hard work over injury adversity come to fruition when they step back on the field for competition.”
Heidi has formed a relationship of trust with the coaches at Exeter, which, as a result, has extended to the students as well. Her work includes providing kids with emergency care, injury care, and rehabilitation. She has also spearheaded dynamic warm-up programs for teams and provided stretching and prevention exercises for common issues athletes face before the season begins, such as shin splints. Her master’s degree in exercise science has made it possible for her to provide strengthening programs for students looking to better prepare for their sport.
This passion extends outside of her regular job as well. Heidi has volunteered for many events and organizations in her spare time—currently, serving as the Director of Sports Medicine for the Seacoast Area Special Olympics Track and Field Meet.
“The Seacoast Area Special Olympics Track and Field Meet has been near and dear to my heart for years,” she said. “It is run by one of my former coaches, who has a son who competes for the Exeter team. I started volunteering for that because they too are athletes, and they deserve Athletic Training coverage as well.”
Getting started in the athletic training field
AT students looking to break into the athletic training field should be flexible because schedules constantly change. They should also enjoy learning new things because an AT’s professional knowledge must continually evolve.
“You wear many different hats as an athletic trainer. You cannot please everyone all the time, and that is okay. Be kind, not just to your student-athletes, but to yourself. Remember to take care of yourself. Burnout leads to a decrease in the quality of care you give; you cannot draw power from empty batteries.”
Heidi has had many people that have inspired her during her career. Dr. Chelsea Backer, a new doctor at Access Sports Medicine, has inspired Heidi by attending sporting events and studying unfamiliar sports to better serve the athletes in her care. Her sister Wendy, the Head Athletic Trainer at a Division III College in Massachusetts, has always pushed Heidi to keep learning and striving to become a better AT. Lastly, her students deserve the best, which inspires her to give her best every day.
Heidi is proud to work with the team at Access Sports Medicine. She enjoys the collective approach to care that the entire team there provides. She also notes how grateful she is for the support of her fellow ATs.
“The athletic trainers I work with do a great job providing care to the student-athletes at their respective schools when needed. We reach out and support each other so that we do not feel like we are an island out in our schools alone.”
Access Sports Medicine is here to help you heal
If you are starting your injury rehabilitation journey and would like to work with our caring and compassionate team, contact Access Sports Medicine today! We’d like to give a heartfelt shoutout to our entire team of Athletic Trainers as we collectively celebrate National Athletic Training Month. Thanks to all of you for the wonderful care you provide our community!