Name: Justen Lopez

Nickname: J-Lo

Alma Mater: Marist College, undergrad / University of Florida, Master’s 

First AT Job: Bard College

Most Important Thing In Your AT Bag: IASTM device

Gameday Snack: Cracked pepper sunflower seeds

Best AT Moment: Giving a pregame speech to my high school football team before a tough sectional final, with the phrase “no doubt” resonating with the players for years to come.

Quote/Lyric/Line that sums up Athletic Training for you: The Starfish Story, which has the great line “But there are thousands of stranded starfish on the beach, surely you can’t make a difference.”  To which the young man responds by throwing a starfish back into the water, “It made a difference to that one.

Wellness Coordinator:

State/Location You are working in as a Wellness Coordinator: NY, LaGuardia Plaza Hotel

Has anything surprised you about the Wellness Coordinator gig? I was surprised to realize when I began working with healthcare professionals (RN, LPN, CNA, etc.) and administrators from the area and around the country that many people still don’t know what an Athletic Trainer is. To my knowledge, Athletic Trainers have been left off of the list of licensed healthcare professionals exempt from state licensure laws during this battle against COVID-19. This shows the work that needs to be done to increase awareness of our value in the healthcare field to both healthcare professionals, administrators and legislators. For our part, my fellow ATs and I have been having some great conversations and demonstrations regarding what our profession can do.

Are there any similarities working with this patient population and working with athletes?  The biggest similarity is the team approach to caring for the patient. While there is not much actual medical care being given, it is a coordinated team effort where everyone has their roles that need to be executed for this to run properly. We need the wellness coordinators, RNs, LPNs, CNAs, security, cleaning staff, kitchen staff, and directors all doing their jobs to make sure that a patient is taken care of from intake to discharge, just as our coaching staff, Athletic Trainers, equipment managers, ground keepers, etc. work together for the success of our sports teams.

Can you share one moment/story/anecdote from this gig? One of the biggest things for me has been getting to know the healthcare professionals coming from all over the country to help with the COVID-19 situation in NYC.  I’ve been able to help with the COVID-19 situation in NYC. I’ve been able to spend a good amount of time talking with and getting to know the RNs and it’s awesome to see these people put their lives on hold to come to NY and help. Hearing so many different backstories and perspectives on various issues helped me see the people coming to help, not just titles. Everyone is sacrificing to help get this disease under control, taking time away from their jobs, families, friends, and homes for weeks or months at a time. When there is a fire, there are those who run away and those who run towards.

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Go4Ellis is the preferred per diem platform of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Every sideline. Everywhere.