If sports are your favorite thing, either as a player in high school or as a fan, you could tunnel that passion into a career as an athletic trainer. 

I really wanted to work in the healthcare field and be a part of patients’ recovery journeys on a daily basis rather than only see them once or twice a week. It’s an amazing feeling to watch someone heal and return to their passions. 

I couldn’t be happier that I went into this field because now I get to teach future athletic trainers. Here are some quick facts about WSU’s Athletic Training program. 

  • Our 3+2 program option allows you to get your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in less time. 
  • 94% of our students pass the Board of Certification exam on their first try. 
  • Students graduate with competitive certification as Corrective Exercise Specialists.
  • You’ll get plenty of hands-on opportunities inside the classroom through labs by working with classmates and technology, from MRI’s, CT scans, and X-Rays to suturing and manikin simulation. 
  • You’ll also get tons more opportunities outside the classroom through clinicals and events like the American Birkebeiner, the largest cross country ski race in the country. Our students have assisted in providing medical coverage here for the last two years. 

Brian Zeller, Ph.D., LAT, ATC

Health, Exercise & Rehabilitative Sciences Chair

Master of Science in Athletic Training Program Director

One of the coolest parts of my job is watching students utilize the knowledge they gain in the classroom and apply it to actual patients.

Why I’m Passionate about This Field

I‘ve been a professor at Winona State for 21 years, and the students always come first.  

My door’s always openabsolutely love it when students ask me questions about their classes, come to me for mentoring on their future career decisions, or simply say hi.  

Some of the most touching memories I have are witnessing our successes in preparing graduates and the impacts they’ve made in their positions, and we have many alumni who go on to do some impressive work after graduation.

Let me tell you more about our Athletic Training program. 

What We Offer at WSU

In our Athletic Training program, we prioritize getting students real, hands-on experience to prepare them for after graduation. Because of that, our students have access to cutting-edge technology like a simulation manikin—which allows students to practice emergency care, from CPR to airway insertion to vital sign assessmentas well as to identify different cardiac and respiratory soundsin state-of-the-art lab spaces. 

Lab experience entails everything from traditional athletic training skills to more advanced expectations like using casting techniques to protect fractured limbs and using diagnostic ultrasound to assess injuries or disorders to muscles, ligaments, spinal discs, and more. 

We incorporate additional training and certification right into our curriculumso our students graduate ready to take the Board of Certification exam not only as Corrective Exercise Specialists, but also with the knowledge of the Graston Technique to treat musculoskeletal conditions. 

Because you need a master’s degree to be successful in an Athletic Training entry-level position, we offer the Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program. And with the 3+2 option, our students can achieve their professional goals faster. 

What You’ll Do

One of the coolest parts of my job is watching students utilize the knowledge they gain in the classroom and apply it to actual patients.  

Our students complete 600 hours of clinicals in their first year alone, and most students do this locally. It could be here at Winona State with our Warrior Athletics. Or it could be at St. Mary’s University, local high schools, or even Mayo Clinic. There are lots of options. 

Then in their second year, our students have two big immersive experiences anywhere in the nation, and the goal of these experiences is to help our students identify something specific that they want to do as a professional. 

Experiences You’ll Get

In addition to the American Birkebeiner, I know students who completed their clinicals with Northwestern University’s Big Ten football team, the Fargo Force junior ice hockey team, and the Milwaukee Milkmen independent baseball team. Right now, I’m in the process of setting up a student to work with the U.S. Navy at their medical center in North Carolina.  

even have a student, Bailey Luna, who’s currently working with Jeff Winslow, a 2005 WSU Athletic Training graduate, at the University of Minnesota (UMN) Men’s Hockey Team.  

Alumni Shoutout: Jeff Winslow

My most useful takeaway from my time at Winona State was that the Athletic Training staff taught me how to perform skills while explaining the philosophy of why certain treatments should be performed. I also got to work hands-on with Warrior student athletes to learn proper techniques and figure out what worked best for me. 

I always admired Dr. Zeller’s willingness to promote the profession of Athletic Training and give back through his work with various professional organizations. Dr. Zeller has been a shining light to the profession of Athletic Training and continues to be a resource for me. 

Today, I provide direct clinical medical care for the UMN Men’s Hockey team. I also supervise a staff of Associate and Assistant Athletic Trainers and even students like Bailey Luna. I collaborate with our Medical Director and Team Doctors to develop policies and procedures to keep all UMN student athletes as safe and healthy as possible. 

I enjoy working with students like Bailey because I get to witness first-hand their ‘light bulbs’ go on when they’re able to connect something in clinical practice to something they learned about in a textbook.

Jeff Winslow '05

Head Athletic Trainer for Olympic Sports, University of Minnesota

Student Shoutout: Bailey Luna

As an Athletic Training student working under Jeff Winslow, I get a lot of opportunities to practice my skills and knowledge in treatments, orthopedic evaluations, emergency care, taping, and more. I even get to create some fun rehabilitation exercises for the Men’s Hockey team! 

I also work with UMN doctors and physicians, including Dr. Brad Nelson, who works with the Minnesota Wild. Creating the relationships I have with the players, coaches, and other staff has been remarkable, and it continues to show me just how much I love what I do. 

As soon as I expressed my interest in working with the UMN Men’s Hockey team to Dr. Zeller, he was instantly on board and willing to help me get there. No matter what, he’s always looking out for me and will do whatever he can to help me achieve my personal and professional goals. 

The MSAT program has helped me become more confident in my skills and knowledge because I practice my skills every day, which benefits not only me, but also my patients. I feel beyond prepared for when I’m on my own.

Bailey Luna

Second-Year Masters Athletic Training Student, Winona State University