AT Spotlight: Aaron “AJ” Jackson, NBA Ambitions
Aaron “AJ” Jackson is one determined, driven athletic trainer. AJ exemplifies what it means to be an advocate for your patients, the profession, and most importantly, yourself. Check out this AT Spotlight: AT Spotlight: Aaron “AJ” Jackson, NBA Ambitions.
What has your athletic training journey looked like up to this point?
Originally from NY, I got my BS in athletic training from Stony Brook University and then continued my education and obtained a Master’s Degree from Temple University. At Temple, I really recognized a passion for teaching as well as being an advocate for mental health.
I have worked in a variety of settings from a community college in NY, an NAIA school in New Orleans, LA (got a national championship with competitive cheer), and now I am the athletic trainer at Milton High School in Atlanta, GA.
Is there a setting you have enjoyed the most, or one you are still trying to break into?
It is hard to pick one because I learned a lot at each stop.
Really my goal is to get into professional basketball. That is a setting that I have always wanted to be in. The NBA or G League is my goal right now, but I know it can be tough without any true basketball experience. I am doing everything I can right now to network and speak with people in that setting to get my foot in the door. Like I have told students in the past, all it takes is for one person to say yes. When they do, I will make sure they know they made the right decision.
Have you considered trying to get a hoops position at the collegiate level?
I have. I actually had an opportunity last year at the Division I level. I interviewed and thought the fit with the head coach and staff would have been great and it would have given me that basketball experience.
However, the salary was not where I felt it needed to be. We negotiated and were unable to come to an agreement. So I had to turn the position down.
While it was a difficult decision, I did not want to compromise my value or the value of the profession. Especially after I have told students and other young professionals not to!
What’s Next for You?
Right now I am trying to be the best AT I can be for the student athletes at Milton High School.
I have also applied to obtain my DAT from AT Still University with a focus in rehabilitation and leadership/education. It would be amazing to learn from the brilliant minds there and better myself.
Long term, after my time in the NBA, I would love to head up an AT education program at an HBCU. With my passion for teaching and fewer HBCU AT programs, it would be a way to give back to a community that is underrepresented in athletic training.
Since this interview, AJ has been accepted to pursue his DAT at A.T. Still University!