DALLAS — You only have to spend a minute talking with Jennifer Krug, Dallas High School’s athletic trainer, to realize why she was awarded the Athletic Trainer of the Year award from the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association at the Awards Banquet on May 19: She’s passionate about what she does.
And she’s funny.
“I don’t like to talk about myself,” she said, chuckling.
Krug has been an athletic trainer since 1997, rehabilitating students in both high school and collegiate settings, including Portland State University, Corban University, Silverton High School and now Dallas High School.
“I was always interested in sports and medicine, and it was a great combo of doing both,” Krug said. “I played sports in college as well, and so still being involved in sports has been awesome.”
Her path to becoming an athletic trainer was clear from the moment she took her first sports medicine class in college.
“I was actually a computer science major,” she said, “and we had a new teacher that came in and said, ‘Jen, you need to take this sports medicine class,’ and I was like ‘what?’ And he’s like, ‘yeah, it combines sports and medicine, you’d love it.’ I was two quarters from graduating with my computer science degree, and my first day of (the sports medicine) class, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. It was that instantaneous. I think I sat in class and I think within the first 10 minutes of class I was done, I was hooked. I have not had any doubts since,” she added.
On top of training at Dallas, Krug is on the sports medicine committee for USA Fencing, an organization that prepares athletes for the Olympics, and travels with those athletes to numerous competitions around the world.
“I just went to Italy, and I go to Cuba in 10 days, and I go to China in July,” she said.
Athletic trainers are the first on the scene when an athlete is injured in a sport and the last ones to see them before they’re cleared to get back on the field or court. They are responsible for having to make a lot of decisions coaches and parents don’t like, Krug said, but they will always make the decision based on the safety and health of the athlete, she added.
The passion Krug feels for her students is obvious from the grin on her face as she talked about why she loves her job.
“My favorite part of my job is when a kid has been injured, and they do the rehab and they go through all the struggles of dealing with their injury and they get back out and start playing again,” she said. “That is the best part of my job. Because I know how much they’ve worked, and the pain they’ve had to go through, and the frustrations of the rehab process, because there are always ups and downs, and for them to get through all that and to go back and play … that’s pure joy.”
It’s no wonder the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association recognized her, alongside Marlee Hanson from South Eugene High School, with the first Athletic Trainer of the Year award they’ve ever given out.
“It’s very humbling,” Krug said. “It was surprising but very humbling, especially to be recognized by coaches and the coaches association, because athletic trainers don’t always make the popular decision during a game or a practice but we always make the decision that is the best and safest for the athlete. And to be recognized for being able to make those tough decisions in a sports season is pretty cool.”
This award is only one of the many accolades Krug has received. In 2016, she won a Distinguished Service Award with the North West Athletic Trainer’s Association. When she was training at the collegiate level, she received the Cascade Conference Athletic Trainer of the Year. She’s also nabbed multiple Athletic Trainer of the Month awards within the Oregon Athletic Trainers Society.
She shrugged as she listed those off, saying that she’s merely just a representation of all the trainers that do what she does on a daily basis.
When she’s not traveling or helping athletes get back to their game, Krug said she likes to spend her summers in Alaska, fishing.
“Alaska is my favorite part of the summer,” she said.