Training for success: Justin Letizia

Almost everyone who has ever played a sport at Hillcrest has met the resident Athletic Trainer, Justin Letizia, who works for The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH)’s outreach program. For anything from shin splints to a broken arm, if students-athletes get injured at practice, Justin is the guy to see. 

Because he played football and ice hockey in high school, he got injured a lot and that is what made him want to become an Athletic Trainer in the first place.

“When I was younger, and getting injured a lot, I got to watch a lot of the process, and realized maybe I wanted to do that too,” he explained.

Preparing to be an Athletic Trainer is a lot of work. To sit for the state certification exam, students need to have a Master’s Degree. Because the field is always changing, they continue to take classes and learn new methods every year. However, the real work comes after they graduate.

“What you learn in school is only a tiny part of this job. You learn so much more just through experience,” Letizia explains.

For students looking to become an Athletic Trainer, volunteer work is the best route, he says. It’s hard to know if you actually want to do it until you have, so Letizia recommends getting experience in the field as soon as possible to see if it really is something you want to pursue. 

Athletic Trainers need to be ready for anything. While most of what they deal with are small issues, every so often something very serious comes up. In his career, Letizia has dealt with serious concussions, broken legs, and other emergencies. According to him though, it’s not scary.

“In situations like that your training just takes over, and if you’ve been trained well, you know what to do and you’ll be fine,” Letizia explained.

At the end of the day though, the job does have its perks.

“I really like that I just get to watch sports all day,” Letizia stated.