Athletic trainers in all of their mud, guts, and glory

Jonathan Allen, Clinical Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Athletic Training, spent this past summer at King’s Domain serving campers and staff members with his wife, Crystal and four children. Though they were expecting to be a part of the medical staff, when they arrived they soon found themselves in a more dynamic position of being the family counselor for young college staff members.

“It was the best summer I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Allen said.

King’s Domain is a Christian camp that sits on 120 acres of forest, creeks and hills located in Oregonia, Ohio. It hosts many different retreats and conferences during the year but is mainly known for their summer camps for children.

Allen returned to Union this fall excited to share the experience of King’s Domain with his students. The camp hosts an annual Mud, Guts, and Glory obstacle race each year to raise money to grant scholarships to children that allows them to attend summer camp. Allen was able to take a few of his students to Ohio to help as a part of the supervising medical staff.

“My goal was to give my students a different experience than your traditional athletic experience working with elite level to recreational athletes,” Allen said.

Though there were plenty of registered athletes that were running the race for “fun,” there were some elite athletes that were competing in the Mud, Guts, and Glory race to qualify for the Obstacle Course Race World Championship.

Allen wanted his students to see another side of Athletic Training, and this event took his students completely out of their comfort zone.

“I had never seen an obstacle course before,” Hannah Higdon, senior athletic training major, said. “I was worried about what kind of things I would see, because with sports you expect the same things, but with people climbing 180 degree mountains, you never know what’s going to happen.”

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Union’s athletic trainers walk through Mud, Guts, and Glory obstacle course.

Jonathan and his students arrived the day before the race and were able to run through the course and try to complete some of the same obstacles that the runners would face on race day. Higdon said once they arrived at the course and ran through everything they felt more comfortable with their positions.

“I loved the fact that this course was designed to be a real physical challenge,” Clark Bilbrey, senior athletic trainer major, said. “A lot of obstacle races are designed to be consumer-friendly- you get some mud on you, run over a balance beam, and then get a t shirt. This course was different- the obstacles were physically and mentally demanding, and not everyone was able to make it through.”

Though the course was tough for some athletes, Bilbrey was encouraged by athletes slowing down or stopping altogether to help a struggling teammate or even a complete stranger.

“I think this concept is easy to visualize at physical events like this,” Bilbrey said. “But it’s an important reminder as a Christian of how important it is to reach out to help those around us, even if it inconveniences us, in order to build up strong community.”

Even though the trip counted towards clinical hours and was geared to help the students grow in their specific area of learning, Allen stressed the importance of using their specific gifts God had given each student to serve others.

“Our verse for the weekend was 1 Peter 4:10, ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’” Allen said.

“When he read that verse the night before,” Higdon said. “We all looked at each other and realized that we were all here for a reason and were put in this major for a reason. After hearing that verse it gave us peace that we were meant to be here.”

“It was a way for my students to experience how they can use their skills to serve others and glorify God,” Allen said. “To let others see Him through them.”

Image courtesy of Natalie Smith|Cardinal & Cream