by Sarah Mummert
Gaining real-world experience can set a college student’s career on a higher trajectory. Students in Cedarville University’s Master of Athletic Training program (M.A.T.) program are not just getting internship opportunities — they are securing positions with some of Ohio's most recognizable athletic programs.
Headlining the list of clinical partnership members are the Columbus Crew professional soccer team and the largest NCAA Division I program in the region — the University of Dayton. Both organizations provide high-end opportunities for Cedarville’s graduate-level students who are interested in a career in athletic training.
Two Cedarville students — Kyler Conn, a first-year M.A.T. student from Jeffersonville, Ohio, and Dennis Kistulinec, a second-year M.A.T. student from Berwyn, Illinois — will begin their immersive four-week clinical placements in January with both UD’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, respectively. Following the four-week clinical, Kistulinec will continue with the Flyers for the remainder of the basketball season in a traditional part-time role.
“Having clinical partnerships with some of the leading athletic programs in Ohio is a great opportunity for our students to not only see athletic training at professional or DI level but to have that national caliber exposure,” said Dr. Ken Blood, clinical education coordinator for the M.A.T. program and associate professor of athletic training.
Working with professional organizations is not new to Cedarville’s M.A.T. program. Kelsey Howell, a 2020 graduate of Cedarville’s athletic training program, served as an intern and later earned a fellowship with the Cincinnati Bengals. She became the first female athletic trainer in the team’s history.
Kurtis Gould, a 2021 Cedarville athletic training graduate, followed Howell’s lead and was on the Bengals’ athletic training staff as part of his clinical experience during Cincinnati’s Super Bowl run. The Bengals lost the championship to the Los Angeles Rams, but the experiences gleaned by Gould have set him up for a successful career in athletic training.
Mason Cooksey, a second-year M.A.T. student from Cincinnati, Ohio, did a clinical placement over the summer with FC Cincinnati.
“The ability to get our students placed in key clinical positions comes down to Cedarville having strong professional relationships in the athletic industry, our rigorous academic program and the high character of our students,” said Blood.
Students who attend Cedarville for their undergraduate degree in sports medicine can enter the Master of Athletic Training program after their junior year. These students can earn an undergraduate and master’s degree in athletic training in five years. Students who complete an undergraduate degree at a different university can enter Cedarville’s M.A.T. program.
While some of the interest among Cedarville’s M.A.T. students centers on the higher-level athletic programs, many of the students would rather pursue clinical experiences at area high schools, including Shawnee High School in Springfield and Beavercreek High School in Beavercreek.
“The professionals in athletic training, whether at the high school, college, or professional levels, trust our students because they know they are well prepared and they are high-quality people,” said Dr. Mike Weller, associate professor of athletic training and director of the M.A.T. program. “I am thankful that so many athletic organizations continue to reach out to us because it ends up being a great opportunity for our students.”
While a large percentage of athletic training students pursue careers in the athletic world, some take positions outside of sports, including with dance medicine, movie sets, and military bases.