By Kerry Pipes
Eric White has always loved sports. He loved playing sports even more. But as the pool of gifted and talented athletes consolidates into an elite few who are good enough for college level sports and beyond, that leaves many athletes with the choice of giving up sports altogether or finding another way to be involved. White chose the latter, going on to become an athletic trainer and today is the district athletic trainer for Mansfield ISD.
The Wichita Falls native got his first exposure to the world of athletic training late in high school. “I helped the athletic trainer my senior year and really enjoyed my time,” recalls the 42-year-old White. He was also becoming interested in sports medicine. So when he got a chance to study in the athletic training program at Baylor University he jumped at it.
“I worked football and basketball at Baylor and decided that athletic training would be my career path,” he says. He graduated and obtained his Athletic Training License in the spring of 1994. He then spent the next decade practicing athletic training in the clinical and high school settings, including stints with Fort Worth ISD and Joshua ISD prior to coming to Mansfield.
“In the summer of 2004, I approached Debbie Weems (MISD Athletic Director) about working the summers and learning more about the administrative side of athletics at the high school level.” He spent the next two summers learning and accepting additional responsibilities helping out during a very fast growing time for MISD. Then in 2006, the district created the full-time position in the athletic office and hired him as the district athletic trainer.
He’s loved every minute of it, continues to have a passion for sports and loves working with young people who share his passion. “Education and athletics are about building relationships with people and striving to get the best out of the people you meet on daily basis. As an athletic trainer your job is serving and taking care of others. It takes flexibility and determination to make that happen daily.”
As district athletic trainer White has two primary objectives. The first is to oversee the athletic trainers in the district (there are a total of 10, with 2 serving at each high school) and make sure they have everything they need to provide for the health and safety of all MISD athletes from grades 7 through 12. “Along with supervising the athletic trainers I also make sure that all 253 of our coaches have the proper training in CPR, first aid and concussion management as required by law.”
The second primary function of his job is focused on the business operations of the athletic department. He reports to Athletic Director Debbie Weems, and is responsible for overseeing athletic purchasing, transportation, budget planning and event management for the high school and middle school programs.
He says he has a great crew of athletic trainers at the schools. They treat and care for all athletic injuries and provide rehab protocols and supervise the workouts for injured athletes until they are able to return.
“The trainers take care of all the teams on their campus. We do not designate sports for each trainer,” he says. There are approximately 750 to 800 athletes per campus and the trainers have 4 to 5 athletic classes along with the sports medicine class they teach, he says. They are responsible for being on campus until all practices are complete and must cover all home sporting events. The trainers also travel with the football teams and during all playoff games. White admits that it can be a challenge for the trainers to cover all the events during peak times of the year but he is highly confident in his trainers and knows that they are focused on the student athletes and meeting their needs.
White says each high school campus has two training rooms. One is located in the football field house and the second in the gym area. They are equipped with whirlpools, modalities, and rehab equipment to help take care of the athletes. “We also have a central training room at Newsom Stadium that is used on game nights and as a central venue at times for middle school athletes to be brought to be evaluated when we are not able to make it to the campus.”
“The greatest pleasure and enjoyment I have in my job is watching others overcome adversity and succeed. When students are injured and return to play or overcome hurdles for success it is rewarding,” he says. “We are in the business of developing young people to become productive members of our community. When you can see that beginning to happen there is no better reward.”
The Life of an Athletic Trainer
We asked Mansfield’s District Athletic Trainer Eric White to describe for us just what an athletic trainer encounters on a daily basis. Here’s how he described it:
“Each day begins with morning treatment before school at 6:45 a.m. This provides our athletes a chance to be seen and get treatment first thing each morning. The school day will start at 7:25. The trainers are present during each athletic period of the day for treatment, rehab and available for injuries. They make sure that each practice has water and any other necessity for a safe practice. That includes monitoring the weather for dangerous conditions including heat or cold. During the periods they do not have athletics or teach sports medicine they must log all the treatment and injury reports to keep accurate records for each student. They also visit the middle schools during the periods the high schools do not have athletics. After school and evenings are the busiest times. The trainers must treat and tape any athlete that needs it to prepare for practice, which usually begins 15-20 minutes after school ends at 2:50. They then monitor the practices throughout the afternoon until they are complete. Most days if there are no games the practices complete between 5:30 and 6:00p.m. That being said there are usually games 3 to 4 nights a week during the busy time of the year (September through April). The trainers work most weekends and many holidays to take care of our students. Christmas break is the longest break they have between August and June, but it is only 5 days. The trainers at MISD have great hearts for kids and do a great job managing their time and the students’ needs.
Personal Q&A with Mansfield ISD’s District Athletic Trainer Eric White
Eric White loves that every day at his job is different. That’s because it’s difficult to have any regular routine when the school district hosts more than 1,500 home sporting events throughout the school year. As Mansfield ISD’s district athletic trainer, White supervises the district’s 10 athletic trainers, visits campuses, schedules and reschedules events, arranges transportation, and keeps the department within budget, just to name a few of his responsibilities. But he’s also a family man, and father of two. He’s lived in Mansfield for the past 8 years and loves being a part of the community. We asked him about life outside work and here’s what he shared with us.
What do you like most about the community of Mansfield? I believe that Mansfield is a family-oriented community that has a great plan for the upcoming growth. The school district is dedicated to providing a great education and the community supports it.
How do you spend your free time? Hobbies? Interests? I spend most of my time with my family. I have two daughters who are 8 and 10 and active in sports. My favorite personal hobby is playing golf. I also enjoy outdoor cooking.
Where do you like to eat in Mansfield? Our Place, Steven’s Garden & Grill and Walnut Creek Country Club.
Do you go see movies? Which ones? Museums? Theater? Rarely go to the movies, mostly rent at Redbox (family movies). Big fan of music. Recently have gone to the Zac Brown concert and The Band Perry concert.
What’s the last book you read? Reading The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know by Dr. O. S. Hawkins.
Do you have a favorite quote? Not a quote but a verse from The Bible Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Who or what inspires you? My main inspiration is from my faith in God. My wife and kids also inspire daily to make life as good as I can for them.
Do you travel? Where? I travel a little. Each year I go to the College World Series in Omaha Nebraska. We like to go to Galveston in the summer.
Belong to professional/community organizations? Southwest Athletic Trainers Association, Texas State Athletic Directors Association. Local – Serve on the Board for Leadership Mansfield.