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National Athletic Training Month Hits Home at NNS

March is National Athletic Training Month, which is held to spread the word about the importance of athletic trainers. But for one Newport News Shipbuilding employee, athletic training is a year-round passion.

Sean Hanrahan, (O22) works with athletes from The Apprentice School in a variety of sports. He’s the only employee who holds that title, although the company contracts two additional trainer positions with Sentara.

Working with Apprentice athletes offers a number of rewards, he said.

”The population I work with is very motivated to work and very motivated to participate in sports,” he said. “That lends to more positive relationships and more positive outcomes.”

That translates into athletes who faithfully follow therapy protocols so they can return to the field or the court, and get back to the shipyard.

The challenge: Between attending classes and learning their craft in the shipyard, Apprentice School athletes don’t have time for lengthy training regimens.

“We have access to our student population almost less than a high school setting, because they are on the job or in the classroom 40 hours a week,” Hanrahan said. “The time we’re able to spend with our Apprentice athletes is very limited and crunched.”

Athletic trainers are multi-skilled health care professionals recognized as an allied health care professional by the American Medical Association and the Department of Health and Human Services, plus other organizations. It’s a varied profession, and Hanrahan can’t single out any one inspirational story since he came to NNS in 2007. There are simply too many.

“The best moments in my career are when someone is struggling with something and they come to you,” he said, “and you can mentor them, and help them through that.”

Given the variety of sports at The Apprentice School, scheduling his time can be a challenge – especially when teams end up going beyond the regular season and into championship play. That just happened with the men’s basketball team, which won the USCAA Division I Small College National Championship.

Different sports present their own training challenges. The wear-and-tear of a collision sport like football requires a different approach than dealing with intricate problems hampering a baseball pitcher’s throwing motion, for example.

Hanrahan said he has the utmost respect for Apprentice athletes, who are not only figuring out their sports, but their career as shipbuilders. Big-time college athletes can identify with their sport instead of their scholastic major. Once that ends, they can struggle after graduation. That’s not true at NNS.

“There is a future beyond college athletics here,” he said.