PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Senior Daniel Taylor excels as athletic trainer
By Lance Catchings
Senior athletic trainer Daniel Taylor has been a part of the Liberty Hill athletic training program for almost six years. It is a program he’s been very passionate about since junior high.
Liberty Hill’s Head Athletic Trainer Melissa Harrington, said that Taylor is a Panther through and through.
“Daniel is an amazing young man with a servant’s heart,” Harrington said. “He has provided care to the athletes of Liberty Hill for the past six years. He volunteers to cover extra events and stays extra time just to help. Young men like him are rare, and he will be sorely missed. Our younger kids have big shoes to fill from this class.”
Taylor got his start in athletic training at Liberty Hill Junior High after suffering from his own injury.
“I ran track in middle school and injured my leg,” Taylor said. “I went to Mrs. Green, at the time, who was the junior high school trainer. I saw what she was doing and it looked interesting. About a week later, I asked if she needed any help, and since then, I have been a student athletic trainer.”
At the high school level, Taylor really excelled while learning the ins and outs of the program.
“Once I got into the high school level, it was very hands on,” he said. “At first, I was trained by Doc (Harrington) and he started teaching me different taping techniques. The transition between him and Mrs. Harrington was pretty smooth, so I didn’t have to worry about any stress from that.”
Student athletic training comes with a myriad of responsibilities and a lot of on the job training, as well as some sports medicine classes.
“As you move throughout the program from a freshman to a senior, you are constantly learning,” he said. “As you progress, the sports medicine classes become available to you, and I took both of those. You learn taping, wrapping, how injuries happen, how to treat them, and rehabilitation. Senior year has been a lot more hands-on than some of my previous years for sure.”
The program has had such an impact on him that he has decided to pursue it in his secondary education.
“I have been accepted to the University of North Texas and will attend for kinesiology,” Taylor said. “I am hoping to double major in athletic training and physical therapy.”
Taylor has long been exposed to the hours the position requires, and the work of the job has never deterred him.
“It is a lot of hard work,” he said. “Incoming freshmen often don’t know the full extent of what we do. We are there at least 30 minutes before the team and sometimes 30 minutes after or longer, sometimes. It is a lot of work, but it is very rewarding.”
His most rewarding experiences over the years have been watching the athletes he helped recover return to their respective sports.
“The biggest thing is seeing people get injured,” he said. “Working with them and seeing them get back into playing condition is awesome. To see them get back to playing again is the biggest reward. Sometimes athletes get hurt and they worry their season or career could be over. To see them get back on the field to play is what gives you the most joy.”
A passion for helping others is not a requirement to join the athletic training program, but it will sure help in the long run. Taylor has found that passion and fulfilled it, allowing him to enjoy what he does to the fullest.
“We get people that come in and they aren’t passionate in athletic training, but they are in other fields,” he said. “Many of the seniors this year, and hopefully the seniors to come, are very passionate and looking to gain hands-on experiences.”
Taylor said after graduation, he will always look back on his training days and the great things he learned while at Liberty Hill.
“It has been an honor to represent the Liberty Hill athletic training program,” he said. “Thanks to Doc and Mrs. Harrington letting us be hands-on, I have learned a lot in my four years here are LHHS. Through that, I was able to help student-athletes, and I have been on more trips than I can count. I have done a multitude of things and had the opportunity to travel many places. One thing is to always remember to be respectful. That is one of the main parts of being in the athletic training program.”
When Taylor graduates in May, the Panther athletic training staff will lose their most tenured student trainer, but all that remain in the program are excited to see him perform at the next level.