Bison Athletics

NDSU Sports Medicine: Essential Personnel

Honoring the NDSU Sports Medicine department during National Athletic Training Month.

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Photo By Hillary Ehlen

Throughout the athletic training community, March is recognized as National Athletic Training Month. Used to spread awareness about the important work of athletic trainers and sports medicine departments, 2019’s slogan for the month is “ATs Are Health Care.”


At North Dakota State, the sports medicine office is comprised of 11 people: six athletic trainers, and five athletic training graduate assistants. Each is responsible for one to two sports and the well-being of its student-athletes. While athletes and coaches are essential personnel at NDSU, the sports medicine crew is on that list as well. They travel with their teams, tend to injuries, no matter how severe and sacrifice a great deal of their time and effort for the betterment of Bison student-athletes and the athletic department as a whole.

Often times, sports medicine departments are overlooked or taken for granted in the eyes of the casual fan. However, behind closed doors, they shoulder a massive responsibility for the athletic department. If their job does not exist, teams are not kept in good health, which directly impacts the product you see in the field of competition.

As coaches are responsible for implementing game plans and strategies for their teams, the NDSU sports medicine department does something similar. Rather than draw up a play on a whiteboard, they’re implementing strategies to have the best possible outcome for athletes when it comes to their health, injury recovery and well-being.

Whether we as fans know it or not, we owe many thanks to North Dakota State’s sports medicine department. They help provide the high-quality athletic performances you witness each season. Student-athletes and coaches are surely indebted to them as well.

So, we want to thank these 11 people for keeping our Bison healthy, well and on the path to athletic success. You may never know the true impact you have, but know that it is wide and deep.

Trisha Shannon

Assistant Athletic Trainer

Sports: Women’s Soccer

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: I feel like being with the team, I love the aspect of always being with that team. The girls joke and they call me “mom” and I hate it, but I just think the aspect of being with them all the time. As terrible as an ACL or a season-ending injury is, it is so amazing and rewarding to see them come back stronger and better than they were before. I think I’ve had three or four girls come in with an ACL or get an ACL here and just being able to work with them through that whole process is pretty amazing.

Ashley Hool

Assistant Athletic Trainer

Sports: Women’s Basketball, Men’s Golf

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Everybody here is like a family. I can ask anybody that works here if they’ll help me with something or if I need coverage or just need somebody to talk to, they’ve got my back always. It’s really good to have a great group of people to work with. Especially athletes and coaches too, they’re great to work with and welcoming, especially me being a new athletic trainer here.

Mike Kjellerson

Director of Sports Medicine

Sports: Wrestling

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Personally, it’s the student-athletes I get to meet and see as they grow for five years. To see them come in as a young kid to grow up to be an adult. The relationships I get here are the most rewarding thing that I see. After being here for so many years I see these guys come back with their families and their spouses and they’re always stopping by to say hi. Those are probably the most rewarding things, the relationships that I’ve had with several student-athletes. Professionally, just letting them enjoy what they came here for at a high level. To participate in their sport, but at the same time, keeping them safe and to have them maintain that high level of health. Also to have them at peak health when they leave here so they can continue that in their normal life. It’s the one thing I always say, there is life after this so you have to remember that you’re going to want to be playing catch with your kid in the backyard, so we have to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves through these five years. It doesn’t have to be a medical hardship either, they can come in and lean on us for pretty much anything too.

Jenny Swenson

Assistant Athletic Trainer

Sports: Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: It’s the athletes that we work with and the coaching staff we work with. The fun seasons that track & field has had in the last few years of conference championships. Some of the significant injuries and you work with them for three months to a year and a half sometimes. To see them go out and do well and come back where they started and finish strong.

Bobby Knodel

Assistant Athletic Trainer

Sports: Football

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Just being able to help the athletes get over injuries and keep them on the field or get them back to the field as quick as they can. Some guys are trying to play after college, so just to help them and give them the best opportunity to play as long as they can and at the highest level they can.

Stephanie Wittman

Assistant Athletic Trainer

Sports: Men’s Basketball, Women’s Golf

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: The most rewarding thing out of the job is when you have an athlete get hurt and they work really hard in their rehab and the moment they get back on the court and they can do what they came here to do, that’s probably the most rewarding thing. This year I had a kid who tore his meniscus, was out for six weeks, worked really hard and six weeks later he’s a high minute kid and is doing really well. That just makes me feel really good about myself that he is able to do what he loves to do.

Lucas Lammert

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant

Sports: Softball

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: My favorite part about being an athletic trainer and NDSU, in general, is that athletic trainers are pretty unique healthcare providers in that we’re with our patients, our teams pretty much every day. It’s a day-to-day relationship, we spend a lot of time with our athletes and you really get to know them. I love that personal connection you get with them. Obviously, you stay professional, but you really get to know each one of them, their quirks and all that stuff. Other healthcare providers see patients after and before an injury. We’re in a unique position where we get to see our athletes before an injury occurs, right during an injury and then the whole time afterward. Again, that just helps build that relationship. We’re with them during the whole injury process and for me, it’s really rewarding to see an athlete who had been injured, slowly but surely get better through rehab and all the treatments that we do.

Nathan Koens

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant

Sports: Baseball

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Making those connections with athletes and having their trust. As you put in all this hard work and see their gratitude and their thankfulness for you. There’s never a down part about it, there’s always an upbeat attitude and it just makes you feel good inside knowing you’re able to help someone through their athletic career and throughout life in general.

Kathleen Gallais

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant

Sports: Men’s and Women’s Track & Field

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: I love coming to work every day, I love seeing the athletes come in. Obviously, I wish it were under better circumstances for them, but I love seeing them work hard and be passionate about getting better and returning to play. It’s very rewarding to see somebody who has been working so hard at not only technique stuff for their sport but also just the physical stuff to get back into the game and seeing them perform the way they would have before injury.

Meghan Smith

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant

Sports: Volleyball

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: That feeling you get after an athlete gets hurt, they’re out for a while, they go through rehab with you and everything and then they finally come back and you see them play for the first time. You get to finally see all the hard work that they’ve put in, you’ve put in, pay off. That just makes the job a lot more rewarding and it gives you that good feeling of actually doing something well because this is a job where you definitely have a tendency to doubt yourself.

Mason Ankenbauer

Athletic Training Graduate Assistant

Sports: Football

Rewards of working with NDSU sports medicine: Seeing the success of our student-athletes. My favorite thing is seeing a guy come off of injury and celebrate getting back to full go. Just the success they have, the football team especially and the travel opportunities and places I’ve gotten to see because of football have been awesome.

NDSU Sports Medicine: Essential Personnel
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