Steadman Clinic’s fellowship program celebrates 20 years |

Steadman Clinic’s fellowship program celebrates 20 years

Athletic trainer Hillery Magness assists an athlete at a Battle Mountain High School soccer game on Wednesday. The Steadman Clinic's athletic training fellowship students have been on the sidelines at local youth sporting events for 20 years this spring.
Townsend Bessent | |

VAIL — Once upon a time, athletic trainers were a bonus in sports, only to be found at top level athletic events. These days, athletic trainers are everywhere, and for good reason. They need to be.

While the sight of an athletic trainer on the sidelines of a sporting event is now commonplace, residency programs for athletic trainers have only been around since the mid-90s. The Steadman Clinic in Vail was among the first in the nation to offer an athletic training fellowship to post-graduate students; this year, that fellowship program celebrates 20 years. It has graduated more students than any athletic training fellowship in the country.

“It changed my life and my profession,” says Val Moody, a 2002 graduate of The Steadman Clinic athletic training fellowship program. “To this day I still use everything I learned at the clinic.”

Moody is now the director of athletic training at the University of Montana. She says those entering the field following a fellowship at The Steadman Clinic’s athletic training program benefit from the wide variety of situations they encounter.

“Going into the fellowship, most people have been working in traditional sports through the high school or college setting,” she said. “In the program in Vail you’re covering ultra marathons, hundred mile bike races, ski events on the mountain, rugby, lacrosse and the less traditional sports that are definitely high risk sports. It’s exposure and experience that you really would not get anywhere else.”

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The athletic training fellowship is currently managed by a native to Eagle County, Eagle Valley High School graduate Brandie Martin. Martin said when she was growing up in Eagle, she didn’t know anyone who played lacrosse. Today, a group of kids walking the streets of Eagle Ranch holding lacrosse sticks is common sight.

With the evolution of sports in the area have come new trends, which Martin has been quick to recognize.

“We do see concussions in lacrosse,” she said.

Recently she helped develop a communitywide concussion protocol to help athletes return to sport safely after a concussion.

“Athletic trainers definitely play a critical role in the recognition, management and return to play in concussions,” she said.

So far this year, they’ve treated approximately 70 concussions in youth sports.

“It’s the second most common injury we see at the high school level,” Martin said. “Second to knee injuries.”

Martin says education is the most important factor in the prevention of concussions.

“That’s why we’re always trying to do community lectures and outreach on the topic,” she said.


These days, an athletic trainer’s workload extends far beyond the athletic field.

When Dr. Richard Steadman first moved to Vail, he brought with him an appreciation for the athletic trainer’s skill set.

“Dr. Steadman was familiar with what trainers were capable of doing in their training from his time working with the U.S. Ski Team,” Martin said. “He recognized early on that athletic trainers could also be used in the clinical setting, so our athletic trainers were then trained to help in the clinic, seeing patients.”

Since then, the role of an athletic trainer has extended into the operating room.

“Today we help assist the physician in the OR, as well as help run their clinics,” Martin said.

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