Clarksville, Ark.-It's all in a day's work for University of the Ozarks Head Athletic Trainer Chad Floyd.
And, work it is for the veteran Floyd, who is in his ninth year serving student-athletes at Ozarks. Long hours and extended weekend work are common place in the athletic training world, and no one knows that better than Floyd. He is a one-man shop and is among the first to arrive and the last to leave. But the 38-year-old Ozark, Ark., native is flawless as he races from field to field and from sport to sport during the school year. In fact, he makes it look easy.
“He efficiently manages ten different sports and effectively cares for a tremendous number of athletes,” said Ozarks Athletics Director Jimmy Clark. “He doesn’t ever seem to be pulling his hair out. You couldn’t ask for a guy to do a better job.”
Floyd is responsible for about 160 student-athletes each year. Coaches and athletes alike rely on Floyd to prepare, rehabilitate and educate them for an assortment of athletic injuries. Prior to a game, Floyd can be seen stretching, taping and preparing athletes to play. After the game, he assesses injuries and begins the treatment process. Floyd, who has never missed a day of work because of sickness, is highly respected by his peers for his care, dedication and organization.
“Everyone in the department benefits from his work,” said Clark. “He is a phenomenal asset for all of our athletic programs. He keeps our athletes on the field playing. He has done this at the professional level and has a lot of experience. He does a great job.”
He began his student athletic training career at Westark Community College (UA-Fort Smith) where he trained athletes involved in the nationally renowned baseball program. He then went to Arkansas Tech University (’95) where he provided athletic training for baseball, football and basketball. After three years in Russellville, Floyd worked within the Minnesota Twins minor league system. Floyd could be with the big league club if he would have stayed within the organization. However, he has no regrets about his decision to leave professional baseball.
“I could probably be in spring training with a big league club right now,” said Floyd. “But I don’t regret leaving. It is an extremely demanding and time-consuming position. It is a hard lifestyle. Your family and your personal life really suffer.”
After working with the baseball team at Westark in the early 90’s, his interest was peaked and he became hooked on athletic training.
“I knew I wanted to do something in sports,” said Floyd. “I didn’t want to coach. I was able to work with the baseball team at Fort Smith and observed their athletic trainer (Tom Cantwell). He was a great mentor for me. I later went to Arkansas Tech and worked under Doin Dahlke who I also admire and gained great respect for. It takes a special person to have that perseverance and display a caring attitude, and both of those men had that.”
Floyd relishes the chance to deal with different situations on a daily basis.
“The interesting thing about athletic training is that every day can be different,” said Floyd, who also teaches a Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries class at Ozarks. “It is fun to come to work because I am dealing with different things all of the time. Athletic training deals with anything that involves the healthcare of an athlete. This can range from extensive knee surgery rehabilitation to an athlete that is sick. I treat 10 to 20 athletes on any given day. And most people don’t see the fact that an athletic trainer spends a lot of time prior to the game and then stays until treatments are completed afterwards. There really isn’t an off-season because when one sport is over, the next sport starts.”
Among the favorite aspects of his job is the opportunity to work with college-age athletes.
“Working with college athletes keeps me young,” explained Floyd. “I can relate to them and they can relate to me. That is one of the things I enjoy most – I have a great working relationship with the kids here. These kids are young, motivated and want to get back to full activity.”
Floyd has seen his share of success stories throughout his career. He has helped countless athletes back to their respective sports through dedication and persistence. He gets results because he expects them.
“I ask an athlete to give me two hours a day for five to six days a week,” said Floyd. “There is a psychological process to the recovery, too. A lot of people don’t see that, but I see it multiple times on a daily basis. An athlete must have patience because there are some things that just take time when dealing with injuries. Helping someone get back and then see them do well is the best part of my job.”
For someone interested in becoming an athletic trainer, he shares one piece of critical advice.
“Someone that is interested in athletic training needs to get as much experience as they can,” said Floyd. “You can only learn so much from a book. You learn so much more by observing others and doing the actual job. You have to put the hours and the time in. There is no substitution for experience.”
Ozarks began employing a full-time athletic trainer in 2001. The fit has been perfect for Floyd.
“Ozarks gave me the opportunity to be the first full-time athletic trainer here,” said Floyd. “They have given me the support and resources I need. I really enjoy working under Coach Clark because he is very supportive and understanding. I enjoy working with all of our coaches. This is where I want to stay. I am really proud to be at Ozarks.”
And Ozarks is proud to have him. In 2008, he was named the winner of the university’s Alvin C. Broyles Outstanding Professional Staff Award, which is given to a member of the professional staff who has demonstrated exemplary dedication, professionalism and ability in his or her position. His colleagues within the American Southwest Conference (ASC) also voted him the 2007-08 ASC Athletic Trainer of the Year.
During those rare weekends without home sporting events, he and his wife Mary enjoy spending time with their one-year-old son, Jalen.
“I try not to take work home with me although I will get an occasional call when I need to answer a question or come back to the office,” said Floyd. “I just try not to be a burden on my family. This is my job and something I take very seriously, but my family is important to me as well. I have a great, supportive wife. We enjoy spending time with Jalen.”