Trading in the classroom for the training room, Amanda Lee is making her own path. The Tulsa Tech sports medicine program graduate, is now making history. Lee is the first female athletic trainer for the Seattle Mariners organization.
“When I first found out I literally had goosebumps,” Lee said “It was not something I intended on doing, making history. I literally just wanted to work in baseball so getting a full-time position was enough for me.”
Tulsa Tech offers a complete field of study in sports medicine and therapy professions inside the Health Science Center on the Lemley Memorial Campus. The program allows students to learn how to recognize injuries, help with rehab and create exercise plans. The course is taught in the classroom along with hands-on clinicals and internships alongside professionals. Ironically, an injury in high school is what guided Lee to the field of athletic training.
“I got hurt my junior year in high school,” Lee said. “I knew I wanted to work in the health care field, I just didn’t know exactly with what. I think my injury led to me being here.”
Lee talked with students about her path to the Everett AquaSox, the short-season Class A affiliate of the Mariners. She encouraged them to take advantage of the internship programs and clinical rotations that are a part of the training program at Tulsa Tech.
“It helped me get connections, I worked with the Tulsa 66ers, who were the D-League team for the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Lee said. “Their athletic trainer is somebody I still talk to now, he is the assistant trainer for the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
Living up to one of our core values at Tulsa Tech of “High Expectations”, Lee is setting even lofty goals for herself. She took time out of her schedule to talk with students in the sports medicine program and hopes to continue to inspire others in the process.
“I don’t really like the attention but if I can inspire just one person that is all I need,” Lee said. “If I can reach just one person and tell them just reach toward your goals, nothing can stop you if you are determined.”
A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows interest in the physical therapy field has been growing steadily over the past decade. The same study also found that over the next decade the number of athletic training jobs could grow by nearly 20 percent. That alone is much faster than the anticipated demand for many other occupations. The increase in demand is directly tied to an increase in awareness of sports-related injuries and an aging population. The latest census update showed nearly 1 in 5 Oklahomans is over the age of 65. With the aging population, opportunities to help people after an injury are abound.
“Athletic trainers work any and everywhere. There are athletic trainers that work in physical therapy clinics, in high schools…which is something that is booming these last few years,” Lee said. “Athletic trainers work everywhere, even at Disney theme parks.”
The program is open to high school seniors throughout Tulsa County, and all high school programs at Tulsa Tech are tuition-free. So if you have a passion for helping others, or are just looking for a way to stay in the game, Lee says there is no better way than becoming an athletic trainer.
“Tulsa Tech did such a good job, we learned so much,” Lee said. “My first year of college was so easy, it was just one big review. It was pretty much a big overview, leading into my sophomore and one class my junior year was all stuff I had learned here at Tulsa Tech.”