Certified athletic trainer focuses his attention on preventing, treating injuries of students in local high schools
Those who have watched local high school athletes shoot baskets, spike volleyballs or jump over hurdles over the past year likely have one thing in common.
Chances are they've all seen the end result of the many hours certified athletic trainer Dean Kirschenmann has put in taping ankles, examining knees and treating shoulder aches and pains of student-athletes.
Kirschenmann, 38, has lent his knowledge of athletic training to six area schools - Storm Lake, St. Mary's, Alta, Schaller-Crestland, Newell-Fonda and Sioux Central - over the past year, and helps those involved in sports stay healthy and compete in their favorite activities.
An employee of Sports Medicine Northwest, Kirschenmann attends sporting events, provides injury prevention, such as taping knees and ankles, and assesses and treats athletes when they suffer an injury.
Kirschenmann, who moved from his native South Dakota to northwest Iowa last fall, said he feels fortunate to be able to come to work each morning already knowing he will enjoy the day's agenda.
"I really love what I do," Kirschenmann said. "I just wish I would have started this 10 or 15 years ago. I tell the kids that I treat that they shouldn't get into a profession they don't like just for the money or to impress people. You have to like what you're doing, and I wake up every morning and I'm happy that I'm doing this for a living. It's great."
Kirschenmann went back to school in 1996 at Dakota Wesleyan University after being laid off from his previous job, and enrolled in the university's athletic training program.
While taking a host of athletic training courses, Kirschenmann gained practical experience in the field by treating DWU athletes and those competing at the local high school in Mitchell.
After graduating, Kirschen-mann was able to hop on board with Sports Medicine Northwest, which serves 21 high schools around northwest Iowa with certified athletic training personnel.
For Kirschenmann, who also participated in South Dakota prep athletics, the chance to work with young players throughout the entire year has been an enjoyable experience.
"I love it here," Kirschen-mann said. "It's a great environment here in northwest Iowa, and I like the schools that I'm working with in the area. I've really enjoyed helping the kids get better and stay better."
Treating injuries is an important part of Kirschenmann's job, but another integral facet of his position is helping students prevent injuries. Kirschenmann teaches the athletes a number of exercises to help strengthen different parts of the body, and also helps tape a variety of joints before practices and contests.
"We deal a lot with the preventative side of things," Kirschenmann said. "We want to take care of these injuries before they start to occur. We help teach the players and coaches about getting in the weight room, having proper nutrition and using exercises to get stronger. We really want to help them prevent these injuries in the first place and help them stay out there and have fun."
Kirschenmann said he stays very busy throughout the year, particularly when sporting seasons overlap, such as basketball and track in March.
The enthusiasm he holds for his trade more than makes up for the long hours spent in small training rooms and on the sidelines."I'm able to help these kids out, and that's very rewarding," he said.