It’s not surprising that Roger Kalisiak can relate to his students. As a teacher, National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame member and Huskie alumnus, he understands what his students need to be successful.
“Having gone through what students are going through and taking those classes, you know what the expectation is,” said Kalisiak, who last year was NIU’s interim athletic training program director within the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “If you really want to learn something and put it into practice, you can’t take the short cut; that is my perspective, and that is what I try to convey.”
Kalisiak earned his undergraduate and master’s degree from NIU. For more than three decades, he was a teacher and athletic trainer at Hoffman Estates High School in Hoffman Estates, Ill., until he retired in 2007.
In 2008, he returned to DeKalb as an adjunct professor, sharing his expertise with a future generation of athletic trainers.
“It’s been very gratifying to come back to NIU,” Kalisiak said. “The students, faculty and administrative staff are great people to work with. I think that’s what helps is working together as a team. The support system is there.”
One member of the support system is Phil Voorhis, a fellow NIU alumnus and the Huskies’ head athletic trainer since 1994.
“Our athletic training program – which has two athletic training hall of fame members teaching our students – is an excellent example of alumni working with students to provide real-world experience,” Voorhis said.
Whether the goal is to work in a professional sports program, health care environment, or a variety of other settings, NIU’s athletic training program provides a valuable educational experience for students who aspire to become highly skilled health professionals.
Part of doing so involves using the “triangle offense,” connecting students and faculty with alumni and employers through internships. It’s something the athletic training department has been practicing for years.
“Our students have to have an off-campus experience, and we are obviously going to tap the folks who have gone through our program and continue to utilize their expertise to mentor and make those opportunities available,” Voorhis said.
Voorhis said sometimes things in the classroom don’t always mirror real world experiences, which is why the practical experience is important.
“The program gives them the foundation and skills they are going to need to be successful in the healthcare profession,” Voorhis said.
Kalisiak shared the sentiment.
“This university offers great things for students, especially in this program,” Kalisiak said. “As a team, we make ourselves available to students just about anytime they need us, and that’s very similar to the field of athletic training. We want them to become a family here, and have the best value as far as their education.”
To learn more about the athletic training program, visit the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.
By Jane Donahue