By Lance Catchings
Senior Jacqui Perry is often on the field or court on Friday or Tuesday nights, but you may not recognize her. Regardless, her impact on Panther sports is undeniable.
Perry is a senior Liberty Hill High School athletic trainer, and March just so happens to be National Athletic Training Month. To Perry, National Athletic Training Month is a time when trainers everywhere can be recognized for their contributions to their athletic programs.
“Trainers don’t get a lot of the pizazz of what the football program gets, or how basketball just got with their trip to State,” Perry said. “Trainers don’t really have something we do that makes us stand out like most of the other sports programs. National Training Month is something to show appreciation for all the things that trainers do. It is just something to show people what we do and how hard athletic trainers work.”
Hard work is the name of the game in the Liberty Hill athletic training program. The Panthers’ run to the State Championship in football was a nonstop grind, but the spring semester is a little more relaxed for Perry.
“I am currently assigned with the varsity baseball team right now,” she said. “This spring training season has been less hectic than football season. There is a lot that goes into it with keeping the players safe, making sure they have what they need and making sure we are handling the water. Water is always important and often what we are known for.”
The aspects Perry enjoys the most are learning more about the players and learning from Melissa Harrington, the Head Athletic Trainer.
“I feel I wouldn’t be the athletic trainer that I am without Mrs. H,” Perry said. “I enjoy getting to know the teams. Many people do not get to spend as much time with the teams, and we get to be at all the practices and events. Helping people without having to be in a hospital is also a good thing, in my opinion. I have always wanted to do sports rehabilitation, and sports medicine was a good way to do that.”
After she graduates from LHHS, Perry plans to pursue a degree in athletic training.
“I am going to Howard College for athletic training, and after that plan to attend Texas Tech,” she said. “I plan to pursue athletic training as a career. I am just not sure at what level, yet. I do not know if it will be at the high school, collegiate or professional level. What I do know is that it is definitely what I want to do.”
Perry started in the athletic program as a freshman, and her passion for it has continued to grow throughout the years.
“Freshman year, when I started athletic training, it was the thing that stuck out to me the most,” she said. “I stopped playing softball, and I grew more and more into athletic training. Hearing the stories from Mrs. H and seeing all my head athletic trainers do what they love really helped me grow a passion for it. Even the not-so-fun things and challenges I enjoy, because I know it is just a small part of it.”
Perry believes her time in the program has taught her transferrable skills to the real world.
“One of the things I have learned in this program is you can’t let what people say bring you down,” she said. “There is so much negative talk out there, and no matter what is said, you must believe what you do is important. It has really helped me become tougher mentally. Ignoring talk and overcoming certain negativity is a huge thing. That is something that happens at school, work, in everyday life, and you must be able to tune out the noise. The little things you learn in athletic training directly translate into real life skills.”
With the passion that Perry has for her craft, it’s hard to imagine her seeing anything but success in her career as an athletic trainer.