A new era in sports medicine at Montclair State University began as Tara Temple was announced as the new head athletic trainer for all 18 Red Hawk athletic teams on Aug. 14 of this year.
This is quite the accomplishment, but for Temple, she never imagined herself going into this career path until she got to college.
“At first I wanted to pursue physical therapy coming out of high school,” Temple said. “But I wanted to deal with more of a sports population so I decided to do athletic training instead.”
After graduating from East Stroudsburg University with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training in 2007, she went on to earn her master’s in athletic training. She accomplished this within one year in 2008.
Temple wasted no time rising up the ranks in athletic training. She earned her first real position at St. Francis College in New York as an assistant athletic trainer, and would later go to have a successful eight-year stint at Stevens Institute of Technology as their assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and Student-Athlete Wellness. Both of these jobs were at the Division I level for athletics.
Although pro sports and Division I jobs are often seen as more desirable because of the pay and the prestige of the position, Temple mentioned how drawn she’s always been to working at the Division III level.
“These [athletes] are here for the love of the sport and that’s why I’m so attracted to working at this level,” Temple said. “Division III sports are really more about the community and everyone working together, from the athletic training to the coaching staff.”
Temple has also been a long time advocate for mental health and wellness among athletes and has had a very successful track record in tackling this issue. At Stevens, she was credited with helping student-athletes with their mental health through support systems, programs, guest speakers and more. She was also a part of several different organizations during her time at Stevens, including the President’s Mental Health Task Force and the American Society for Suicide Prevention.
She believes that while we need to focus more on helping people with mental health issues in our country, student-athletes, in particular, need to have more access to help whenever they need it.
“The mental health aspect is important for athletes, especially if one gets injured and is told that they can’t do their sport anymore,” Temple said. “That especially can be a big hit to someone and cause other issues that are affecting them in their lives to come up.”
Temple hopes to carry on her advocacy of mental health here at Montclair State. She would like to continue to build up the athletic training program at the university considering it has seen a decrease in enrollment in recent years. According to Temple, she hopes that the new master’s program for athletic training will change that.
Being hired toward the end of the fall sports preseason training has made the transition from Stevens to Montclair State a challenging yet interesting experience for Temple. Nevertheless, she remains confident that she will be able to make a difference as the new athletic trainer.
“Processes are different at every school,” Temple said. “Getting to learn that and seeing what works and continuing that, as seeing what doesn’t work and changing things is what’s most important.”
Although for her, the real joy in the job will always come in making sure the student-athletes’ needs are met.
“One thing that I love about this job is not only getting the student-athletes back into their [sport] after a longer-term injury and to see them succeed, but also seeing them succeed in life,” Temple said. “Even if they can’t go back to their sport [after injury], propelling them into success after sports is what truly makes this job worth it at the end of the day.”