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Athletic training graduate plans to be role model to students with new position at SC high school

April 12, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

When Katrina Linenko was nearing her high school graduation, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for her career and wasn’t even sure that going to college was the right path. After being recruited to join the track and field team at Concordia University in her home state of Oregon, she decided to give it a try.

“I had always been told ‘do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’ so I became an exercise science major because I knew I’d enjoy it,” Linenko says. “In our first intro to exercise science class I was introduced to the world of athletic training, and I have never looked back.”

With her career goal in mind, she began amassing hands-on experience – on campus as a student aid working with various teams at her university and off campus as an intern with a physical therapy and personal training organization. She also began looking at graduate programs to earn the required credentials to serve as a professional athletic trainer.

“I asked my athletic trainers and professors where to look, and they all recommended UofSC,” Linenko says of deciding to join the Department of Exercise Science’s Master of Science in Athletic Training program. “After looking into the program and talking to Dr. Jim Mensch for endless hours, I knew this is where I wanted to be. The amount of school pride and love Dr. Mensch and everyone else in the program showed me during the application process was something no other school had given me.”

Since joining the program in 2020, Linenko has continued building her expertise by working with local high schools as well as UofSC’s football and swim/dive teams. She discovered she was particularly interested in high school settings and focusing on injury prevention – something that wasn’t a part of her high school experience but that would have been beneficial to athletes like herself.

The amount of school pride and love Dr. Mensch and everyone else in the program showed me during the application process was something no other school had given me.

-Katrina Linenko, M.S. in Athletic Training, 2022

Linenko did, however, have support during high school that made a lifelong impact on her. Though she was eventually adopted and raised by her loving grandparents, spending her first decade in changing home environments (including the foster care system) left a lasting impression on the middle child of five girls. It also resulted in special relationships with her high school role models that she would never forget.

“Everyone knew my story and seemed to treat me just a little bit differently, but my teachers and coaches never did,” Linenko says. “They pushed me a little harder, they expected a little more, and they periodically pulled me aside after class to check on me. They all cared about me, not only as a student, or as an athlete, but as a person.”

After her graduation next month, Linenko plans to pay it forward by working with high school students throughout her career. She’ll be kicking things off with her dream job as an assistant athletic trainer at Chapin High School, where she will also teach sports medicine.

“When I think back on all the amazing people that got me to where I am today, I think of all the high school teachers and coaches that played significant roles in my life,” Linenko says. “This is my why. I want to be the person for someone that many of my high school figures were for me.”

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