Not Your Typical Derby Girl, Featuring River Strong

Photo Credit: Down’n’Out Photography

As the home team season begins, fans will see some new faces on the track, including athletic trainer River Strong. River skates with the Trouble Makers and is one of the newest recruits to Speed Regime. The Regime will face off against the Mobtown Mods this Saturday in Charm’s home season opener.(tickets here!) Get to know more about this Charmer and come see her play this weekend!

1. What’s your job title?
I am a Certified Athletic Trainer, licensed through the state of Maryland. I currently work as the Assistant Athletic Trainer at a private girls school in Baltimore where I work with their middle school and high school athletes.

2. What are your job duties?
My responsibilities include first response and emergency care, as well as the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions of my student athletes.

3. Why did you decide to pursue this job? What/Who inspired you?
I first became interested in athletic training after I spent my senior season of high school softball in our school’s athletic training room thanks to a stress fracture in my leg and a broken bone in my hand two weeks after returning from the stress fracture. When I went to college, I took a few prerequisite courses in first aid, athletic injury care, and anatomy and physiology which only secured my interest in the field. There was an intense clinical component outside of classes where we were working with professional athletic trainers in area secondary schools and colleges. I was inspired by being able to observe those athletic trainers that I worked with and by seeing the impact they made on their student-athletes. I also found the subject matter fascinating and loved being able to apply something we were learning about in class to see real world application and results.

4. What (if any) challenges do you deal with? How do you deal with them?
This is a fast-paced, unpredictable, continually-changing job. Athletic trainers are expected to maintain all aspects of the safety of our athletes and as such are concerned with everything from the environment and weather conditions at practice to emotional and mental wellness and the physical health of the athletes we care for. Every day I must be prepared for the (hoped against) risk of a catastrophic injury, the daily grind of taping ankles and padding blisters, and everything in between. Preparation is key. Ideally, a lot of my job would simply be standing on the sideline, watching a sports team play but you always need to be ready if there is an injury. There’s a lot of training, certifications, and education that we must keep up to date with, in the hope of being as prepared as possible.

5. Why did you decide to start playing derby?
I decided to start playing derby after I had been volunteering for two years. I originally got involved with derby because my girlfriend was a skater (-turned-official). I’d always played sports and derby looked like it was loads of fun (spoiler: it is). I started helping her at bouts and watching a lot of derby but we were still students at the time and I saw how difficult it was to manage school and derby. I knew that with my studies, I would need to wait until after I graduated to start skating. CCRG began its boot camp and fresh meat try out during my last semester of school so I had to wait until the next spring before I tried out and joined the league.

6. What’s your derby history?
I started skating with the C travel team, the Trouble Makers, this past summer and was just drafted on to the Speed Regime for home team season! I mainly play blocker, though I’m working to improve my jamming skills. My derby name is River Strong, in reference to the Doctor Who character River Song, because she is a bad-ass and we both have crazy hair. There’s also a subtle reminder to myself that perseverance is key and I am stronger than I am inclined to think sometimes. My number is 11, which actually came before the name simply because I have always worn that number and I already had shirts with it on the back. Plus it works with the Whovian reference 🙂

7. What words of encouragement would you impart upon a female considering your career?
Never stop learning. If you aren’t a fan, this is not the job for you. You will be challenged and pushed at times, but it will be worth it to see the effect you have on your student-athletes. Always strive to maintain a good work-life balance.

8. Anything else you want to share?
I’m hoping to head to graduate school for my master’s in athletic administration next fall. I hope to attain a graduate assistant athletic trainer position in the athletic training room of my school while I’m studying.

River and her team will be in action on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 in our home team season opener at Du Burns Arena. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the first game starts at 6:30. All ages are welcome!

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