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Athletic Trainer Profile: Andy Carter, ATC

May 6, 2016

Like many athletic trainers of his generation, Andy Carter, ATC, Senior Associate Athletic Trainer at College of William & Mary, received his first real exposure to the world of athletic training in high school, attending a Cramer student workshop. “Growing up, my family went to every high school football game, because my mother worked at the school (Magna Vista High school in Ridgeway, Va.). When I was in the eighth grade, the team needed a statistician and I was happy to fill that role. I arrived at the games early, and there was a student a few years older who had attended the Cramer camp at William & Mary. He taught me to tape ankles and a few other things, and I started helping him get the guys ready for the game.”

The summer before Andy entered ninth grade, the high school offered to send him to the camp. “I participated in the basic track that summer, and was an athletic training aide that year at school. I was 14 years old and it’s scary to think about the level of responsibility I was given! But in the early 90s, it was pretty common—thankfully, times have changed. I returned to the Cramer camp the next summer, and took the advanced track. I owe my start in athletic training to those camps—and I think many others in our profession can say the same thing.”

Andy received a B.S. in Kinesiology at William & Mary in 1998, then earned a master’s in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Illinois State University in 2000. After graduate school, he was extremely pleased to accept a position at William and Mary.

“For my first three years there, I had a dual appointment with academics and athletics,” Andy explains. “I worked in the clinic, taught in the kinesiology department, and was director of the athletic training education program. I led a two-year process of CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation and of Allied Health Education Programs) candidacy and accreditation. Ultimately, the decision was made to not pursue accreditation, and our athletic training major was discontinued. So in the summer of 2003, I moved into the athletic training room full time, covering men’s and women’s gymnastics and men’s soccer. In 2004, I took over the health care of the football team.”

As the second oldest college in the country, Andy describes William and Mary as a special place, rich in history and tradition. Student athletes are expected to balance, and excel in, both academics and athletics. “As a result,” he says, “these athletes are intelligent, ask good questions, understand their role in the rehab process, and become informed about the treatment plans we recommend.”

The students at William & Mary have a high potential for learning and success later in life, and Andy says the athletic training team takes the responsibility of maintaining and preserving that potential very seriously. “Our number one focus is preventing players from sustaining an injury that could negatively impact their ability to learn, their future livelihood, or their ability to have meaningful relationships.”

Andy continues, “We focus a lot on educating our athletes about risks, with a heavy emphasis on the dangers of concussion and their responsibilities regarding concussion. Sometimes we witness a collision that might have led to a concussion so we can ask questions and take action; sometimes coaches or teammates tell us what they have seen. For the most part, though, we rely on our athletes to self-report. When an athlete tells us they don’t feel right, or they’re dizzy or have a headache, we immediately start the concussion management process. Unfortunately, players don’t always report concussion symptoms because they want to stay in the game. Football is a violent sport, and we see devastating knee and ankle injuries—but thinking about concussion is what keeps us up at night because we have to rely so much on the athletes for information.”

In addition to his love of being on the sidelines, Andy’s passion for teaching has led him to pursue a number of very interesting opportunities. He is a partner and instructor in ACES Preparatory Workshop, a company that offers Board of Certification exam prep courses; he helps teach the SMART Workshop--a sideline injury management course for family medicine and sports medicine physicians who are sideline doctors; and he coordinates a partnership with a local family residency program, where second-year physicians complete a sports medicine rotation at William & Mary clinics. Andy also represents District III on the NATA’s College and University Athletic Trainers’ committee.

And remember those Cramer summer camps, where Andy became convinced that athletic training was the career for him? In 2000, the year he started working at William & Mary, he started attending the summer camp again—this time, as an instructor! See the accompanying article in this issue of The First Aider for details about the wonderful way in which Andy’s career has come full circle with William & Mary’s annual summer high school sports workshop.

Andy enjoys all of the extra projects and activities he’s involved with. “They help me stay involved with the profession, and allow me to promote the profession—something very important to me.”

Equally as important, he notes, are his wife and two sons, ages six and three. “I love going to my oldest son’s soccer games,” Andy says. “And a few years ago, I got a private pilot’s license. We travel whenever we get a chance, and especially enjoy going to Washington, DC on my open weekend during football season.”

Some years after Andy had started working professionally as an athletic trainer, he discovered something that suggests his interest in athletic training could have a genetic component. “I found out that my father had Cramer’s home-study training manual, Athletic Training in the Seventies!” he says. “Dad had managed his college soccer team and evidently ordered the manual to learn how to tape an ankle and things like that, and had completely forgotten that he had it. It’s fun to look through the manual and see how things have evolved.”