The Team Behind the Team: Athletic Medicine

Nov. 14, 2013

During each week of competition throughout the cross country season, we will highlight a member of our support staff that helps the Wolverines succeed on and off the course!

Meet Athletic Trainers Christie-Lee Miller and Kelsey Penebaker:
Christie is in her fourth year as a staff athletic trainer working with the Wolverine men's and women's cross country teams. During her first three years, she also worked with the men's and women's track and field programs. This year, she is supporting the cross country teams, as well as the new women's lacrosse program, which will play its inaugural season this spring. Christie received her bachelor's degree in athletic training in 2008 from Capital University (Columbus, Ohio), where she also participated in soccer and track and field. She then earned her master's degree in sports medicine and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010. During each of her four years at Michigan, Christie has mentored an athletic training fellow, who works alongside her for the entire academic year.

This year, Kelsey Penebaker, is serving at the athletic training fellow for the men's and women's cross country and track and field programs. Kelsey earned her bachelor's degree from Winona State University, where she also played volleyball, and went on to receive her master's degree from Northern Kentucky University.

Christie-Lee Miller
Christie-Lee Miller

Christie-Lee Miller

How did you get interested in athletic training and how did you ultimately arrive at Michigan?
I have always played and been around sports, but I really developed an interest in athletic training from my high school athletic trainer, Nakia Sanders. He sent me to a sports medicine program for high school students at UPMC which developed my interest even more. I was a student-athlete and received my bachelor's degree in athletic training from Capital University in 2008. While at Capital, I was able to complete internships with the Columbus Crew (MLS) and Columbus Destroyers (AFL) to gain more experience at different levels of athletic training. Upon graduation, I attended the University of Pittsburgh and received my master's degree in sports medicine and nutrition in 2010. While at Pitt, I was also a graduate assistant athletic trainer with the men's and women's swimming and diving programs. I was hired by the University of Michigan after graduating from Pitt and I have been here ever since!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working with the student-athletes and watching them develop, overcome challenges and work hard every day. It is an amazing feeling to watch someone you work with succeed and know that you had a part in that. I also love working with my coaching staff and co-workers in the department!

What is the biggest challenge in your job?
The most challenging part of my job is finding a work-life balance, especially with my family being in Pittsburgh! Everyone in the department works long hours and athletic training is no different. We often find ourselves working late in to the evening, weekends, and holidays and have some pretty demanding travel schedules. As stressful as it can be at times, it makes it that much more rewarding because at the end of the day everyone is working hard towards the same goal.

What makes working for Michigan Athletics special?
We all work hard here -- whether it is on the field as a student-athlete or off of the field as a department team member. It's the culture of Michigan Athletics that makes it such a dynamic and enjoyable environment to be a part of. Specific to my job, I get to work with some of the best health care providers in the country. The level of care that we are able to provide to our student-athletes and the resources we have to do that is truly unmatched.

Are you certified in any areas that specifically benefit cross country runners, if so explain?
I most recently completed the Active Release Technique (ART) certification for the lower extremity. I am also certified in Graston technique, Active Isolated Stretching (thanks coach Henry!), Functional Movement Screen (FMS-1) and a Certified Kinesiotape Practitioner. All of these are tools that can have a big impact on the distance runner. Most people don't realize that this particular group of student-athletes is essentially competing for about 10 months of the year. A lot of effort goes in to keeping them as healthy as possible!

What do you enjoy doing away from work?
Ironically, running! (And I've taken a particular interest in conning Kelsey into running with me!). I competed in track in college but definitely not as a distance runner! However, I have developed a real passion for the sport and actually look forward to workouts every day. I also enjoy just being with my friends and family, and traveling for fun.

What do you enjoy about mentoring a new fellow each year?
I love working with our fellows. Athletic training is always changing and they bring new ideas with them and a sincere interest in learning. We have a very large and diverse staff at U-M with a lot of different skill sets. It really creates a unique environment for them to learn and become even better clinicians. I think our fellows each really take away an invaluable experience when they leave here.

Kelsey Penebaker
Kelsey Penebaker

Kelsey Penebaker

How did you get interested in athletic training?
I decided to go into the field of athletic training after sustaining a season-ending injury senior year of high school. I was afraid that it would affect my recruiting process and that I would miss out on the opportunity of being a college athlete. My athletic trainers played a critical role in my return to play, and showed me that my injury was not the end of the world. They had a huge impact on my physical and emotional well-being. Due to their impact on my life, I wanted to be able to help and mentor other student-athletes like myself.

What made you want to be an athletic training fellow at Michigan?
I was drawn to the athletic training fellowship because of the reputation of the athletic medicine staff, athletics department and university. The athletics medicine staff has a diverse skill set, and provides a great opportunity for the athletic training fellows to continue broadening their clinical practice.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the student-athletes and coaches that I get the opportunity to work with every day, and the manual therapy culture that Michigan athletic medicine fosters.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?
Outside of learning 100-plus names during pre-participation physicals (giggles), the biggest challenge is telling a student-athlete that they are not able to do what they love because of an injury.

What makes working for Michigan Athletics special?
Michigan Athletics strives to not only be the "leaders and best" on the track and field, but also in their interactions with the community. You feel like you are part of something big and on the cutting edge when you're at Michigan.

What do you enjoy doing away from work?
I enjoy playing indoor and sand volleyball, weight training, and running with Christie when our schedules allow.

• Past Entry: Casey Taylor

   

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