by Laura Michael, LAT, ATC

Imagine standing at the start line of a race. There are so many participants that you feel lost in the crowd. The gun goes off and the group surges forward. People are bumping into each other as they start jogging. Gradually the crowd thins out and the pace becomes comfortable and consistent. All of a sudden a tiny middle school girl goes flying past you. Do you let her fly past? Do you increase your pace so she doesn’t leave you in the dust?

Life is a lot like a race. My start line was when I started high school. I went to a decent size school in a smaller town in Tennessee. At times I felt lost in the crowd, just like the runner at the start line. We were all just biding our time until  graduation. I enjoyed my studies, so my high school years were fairly easy. The race to the finish was a comfortable, consistent pace. When I started college I realized there’s a great big world out there, and I had just barely dipped my toes into it. When I first started college, I didn’t realize I needed to buckle down and focus. High school was a breeze. I didn’t have to study. Why should I have to study in college? Why didn’t I understand anything my chemistry teacher was saying? Was he even speaking English? The middle school girl was slowly gaining on me, and I had to decide if I wanted to let her fly past or chase after her.

Fast forward to the fall of my senior year in college. I started preparing to take my boards. Here came another middle schooler, hot on my heels. This one was a doozy though. If I passed, I could look for a job and put my skills into practice. I hit the books hard. I participated in study groups. I did workbooks and online practice tests. I went through so many highlighters. I’m sure my professors were tired of me asking them to explain things to me.

After a lot of prayer and hard work, I passed the test! I could start looking for a job. I applied to seven colleges, one clinic, one sports organization, and one school system for athletic training positions. I talked to several different clinicians about job opportunities. I did four phone interviews. By the end of May, all ten places either turned me down or ended up filling the position. All ten of those middle schoolers went flying past me, leaving me in the dust. I was very discouraged going into the summer.

One morning in early August, one of my professors called me about a job opportunity in a clinic in Milan. He said that there were two guys looking for a head athletic trainer for their physical therapy clinic. I talked to Heath later that afternoon and set up an interview time.

Later on in August, I drove to the Greenfield clinic for an interview with Russ and Heath. It’s pretty intimidating being a 22 year old fresh college graduate interviewing for a head position with such a prosperous company. Two important looking men were sitting in front of me telling me about their company, their clinics, and their vision for me. Somehow I managed to impress Russ and Heath enough that they hired me! I finally caught one of those pesky middle schoolers and have a fantastic job working with people all over west Tennessee!

It would have been easy to give up chasing after that A in chemistry. It would have saved me a lot of time if I hadn’t studied as hard for my boards. I could have given up the job hunt after the first place called and said they had filled the position. I didn’t give up though. I was motivated enough to catch that middle school girl and beat her to the finish line. I know there will be more races and more obstacles in my life, but I always strive to do my best and kick butt at whatever I do!