Mark McCracken, a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) with Virginia Sports Chiropractic of Warrenton and Haymarket Physical Therapy & Chiropractic, spent much of the past year working with the athletic training staff of the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals NFL teams.
Online PR News – 02-December-2012 – Warrenton, VA – Working with NFL teams like the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals would be a dream job for most football fans. Mark McCracken, Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) from Virginia Sports Chiropractic of Warrenton, spent much of the past year working with the athletic training staff of both NFL organizations. It’s been nothing short of a dream come true for this former Division III football player and sports medicine advocate.
While attending George Mason University as an Athletic Training major, McCracken was selected by the Washington Redskins to work as a Student Athletic Training Intern from July 2011 to January 2012. As part of the Redskins’ seasoned athletic training staff, McCracken worked with players to prevent injuries, and provide immediate treatment and rehabilitative care when injuries did occur. "I worked with players who were injured but also spent a large amount of time with maintenance-type treatment. These are exceptional athletes and their bodies are well-tuned machines that need to be kept running at peak performance at all times."
McCracken’s experience working with NFL players was just beginning. Upon learning of summer training opportunities through contacts he made while working for the Redskins, McCracken applied for a position with the Arizona Cardinals. When a call came inviting him to work at the Cardinals summer training camp, McCracken accepted. He was about to spend a hot but highly rewarding summer at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
McCracken "learned something new every day" at the Cardinals summer training camp. Working with players on practice and game days, McCracken focused on injury prevention, proper hydration, first-aid, therapeutic treatments and rehabilitation. He was also responsible for maintaining a clean and organized athletic training room. This was made more challenging by the fact that his athletic training unit needed to be mobile. "When we played Kansas City, we practiced there for a week between the Hall of Fame game and our game against the Chiefs, so that week we moved our whole operation to Missouri."
A typical day at football summer training camp is nothing short of grueling. "We worked 7 days a week, normally putting in 12-14 hour days," shared McCracken. After breakfast at 6:00 a.m., McCracken treated players until about 10:00 a.m. Then it was time to help set up the field for the morning "no pads" practice. After lunch, the athletic training staff worked with the players to prepare them for a full afternoon practice. McCracken provided treatments after practice until it was time to break down the field for the day. After dinner, he cleaned and organized the athletic training area, carefully recording notes from the day’s activities.
McCracken’s favorite part of working with professional football players is game day, when an athlete’s hard work pays off. "You get to see the guys you personally work with on a daily basis, go out on the field and basically morph into superstars," explains McCracken. "I think the NFL is the pinnacle of athletic training and sports medicine. Being able to learn from the athletic trainers connected with a professional football team is an amazing opportunity."
Treating Athletes in Northern Virginia
McCracken regularly applies the first-hand experience he gained working with the Redskins and Cardinals to his role as a Certified Athletic Trainer at Virginia Sports Chiropractic of Warrenton and Haymarket Physical Therapy & Chiropractic located in Gainesville, VA. Both clinics specialize in sports medicine, working with a range of athletes from professional and Olympic athletes to beginners.
McCracken is part of a team of athletic trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists, all working toward a common goal of healing patients and helping them perform at their highest level. They provide field sideline coverage for sports, including baseball, rugby, soccer, swimming and equestrian events. Preseason baseline concussion testing and strengthening programs to help minimize injuries are also offered.
"My experience in the NFL has allowed me to feel more comfortable with my decision making, more creative in my choices of therapeutic exercises, and more open minded to new approaches toward rehabilitation in general," McCracken stated. "I have learned so much that I keep a five subject notebook that is filled with new ideas, techniques and protocols that have been successful."
A Return to the Redskins
This past summer, McCracken received a call back from the Washington Redskins organization asking if he would be interested in assisting the athletic training staff on the sidelines during home games this season. McCracken jumped at the opportunity to continue his work with the burgundy and gold. "I treat every day as a learning opportunity, in hopes of strengthening my abilities as a health care professional. It is a unique experience, and I’m grateful for it."
About [Virginia Sports Chiropractic of Warrenton]
Virginia Sports Chiropractic of Warrenton (VSC), the sister clinic of Haymarket Physical Therapy & Chiropractic (HPTC), is located at 493 Blackwell Road, Suite 117 in Warrenton, VA. In addition to sports medicine, the practice also provides chiropractic care, strength & conditioning, massage therapy services, and physical therapy through HPTC. Virginia Sports Chiropractic of Warrenton can be reached by calling (540) 905-7788 or by visiting its website at http://www.vscwarrenton.com. HPTC can be reached by calling (703) 753-0974 or visiting its website at http://www.haymarketphysicaltherapy.com. Most insurance plans are accepted.