By Samantha McKosky '19 / Sports Information Intern

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- In celebration of National Athletic Trainers’ month in March, one of Eastern Connecticut State University’s four graduate student athletic trainers – two of whom work with varsity athletes and two with club athletes -- will be profiled in this space each week this month by Sports Information intern Samantha McKosky, a junior English major from Deep River. The initial segment in this series profiles  Kelsey Rynkiewicz from Nanticoke, PA.

The Connecticut Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA) is promoting National Athletic Trainers’ in order to inform the public on the importance and positive impact of athletic trainers. Athletic trainers help prevent, diagnose and treat injuries and keep their athletes active in their sport as much as possible. They work in various job settings including those in college, clinical, emerging and professional sports. Professions in the field are highly multi-skilled individuals. They have a high level of skills that also involve planning rehabilitation treatments, giving health care instructions and basing decisions to the best of their knowledge with the help of other athletic trainers.

Rynkiewicz has worked in the Eastern athletic department as an assistant with the varsity athletes for the past two years as she pursues her M.S. Degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from the University of Connecticut this May.

As an athletic trainer, Rynkiewicz currently provides care for all varsity-level teams, successfully handles injuries, evaluates the athletes and is certified in EMT as well assisted in medical clearance, First-Aid, CPR and AED.

Rynkiewicz’ hard work offered her a graduate assistant position through UConn as well being able to get her master’s paid and a doctoral position. “UConn has a great program, great connectivity and connections with people,” she says. “It was more of a right fit and an interest of what I want to do next.”

Rynkiewicz and Eastern assistant athletic trainer Steve Davi both earned this undergraduate degree from King’s College, and Davie suggested that she apply for an opening position as an assistant athletic trainer at Eastern.

Rynkiewicz commitment and ability to care will remain for the next four years as a graduate assistant at Eastern. Julie Alexander, one of Eastern’s two head athletic trainers, is thrilled for Rynkiewicz to persist her work and passion for the athletes at Eastern. “She is always early, often hours early, because she enjoys her job and her athletes. She is a pleasure to be around and is one of the most skilled young athletics trainers that I’ve worked with in my career.”

In addition to athletic training, Rynkiewicz is involved in many projects and research endeavors. Her master’s thesis is titled Modified Heat Tolerance Testing in Recreational Runners. The project examines recreational athletes to determine if a modified test is able to predict their thermoregulation ability and understand how their temperature and heart rate responds to exercise. Her Ph.D is focused on more qualitative research involving surveys and interviews with athletic training clinical education and perceptions on athletic trainers.

Athletic training can become a knotty job, dealing with nicks and bruises to responding to ankle sprains, knee injuries and concussions. “Things don’t always present the same,” says Rynkiewciz. “An athlete may not be getting better and we have to go back and reevaluate and ask ‘okay, what did I miss? Or, what else is going on?’… sometimes it’s hard getting to the root of the issue and what was actually their mechanism that caused the injury to happen.”

Rynkiewicz has certainly enjoyed every moment being an athletic trainer at Eastern. She appreciates that in a Division III setting, coaches and athletes seem to build a closer relationship and the level of athletics is different than at a larger school. “Julie and (co-head athletic trainer Tom Holton) are awesome and I love working with them. What’s great is that having more than one athletic trainer, your able to collaborate with one another and bounce ideas and come to the best course of treatment.”

According to Rynkiewicz, her professors from King’s College sparked this idea of working in a dual position of working clinically as an athletic trainer and teaching as a professor in an athletic training program. In addition to her duties at Eastern, she has been a teaching assistant at the UConn since January.

Meeting new people, gaining connections and striving for new experiences will develop an even brighter career ahead of her. The integrity and knowledge she brings to Eastern’s athletics has helped teams succeed and build many close relationships along the way.

An athlete herself, Rynkiewicz competed in softball for nine years and coached the junior high school team in her hometown for three years during her undergraduate years. She also played basketball and volleyball.

Eastern Connecticut State University would like to acknowledge Rynkiewicz for the care and compassion she gives to Eastern’s athletes every day.

Next in the four-part series: Sarah Myers of Portsmouth, NH, club sports athletic trainer.