Paving The Road to Recovery: Andover’s Athletic Trainers Cure and Cheer

In the brightly Andover Training Room, with the cold whirlpool bubbling and music constantly flowing from the radio, the three athletic trainers can always be spotted singing along while wrapping legs or packing ice.

Working as a team for the past two years, Katherine Birecki, Ali Mattia and Amy Wiggins, Andover Athletic Trainers, have efficiently treated a wide spectrum of injuries, from shin splints to torn ACLs, while creating a fun and upbeat environment for athletes of all levels. Under their cheerful watch, the Andover Training Room has become a cross between a bustling emergency room and a relaxed children’s playground — an environment where even an athlete’s worst nightmares can be fixed.

All three trainers are united by a palpable passion for what they do and a genuine love of their surroundings.

“Athletic training is the most awesome profession out there because it’s so fun,” said Mattia.

“The people that I work with are the best. It’s not individual work — we’re a team of trainers,” added Wiggins. “I guess I love athletics and taking care of athletes.”

The trainers see an athletic training career as a seamless mix between athletics and medical practice.

“I’ve always liked medical stuff, and I was injured in high school, and that’s when I learned about athletic training as a profession,” said Birecki.

“I was an athlete in high school, and I got hurt a lot, so I spent a lot of time with my athletic trainer. I just thought it was a cool profession,” said Mattia. “I wanted to go into some type of medical field, and I love sports, so I thought it was a cool combination of what I enjoy.”

Known around campus not only for their welcoming attitudes, but also for their incredible aptitudes for athletic training, Mattia, Wiggins and Birecki bring life to this relatively new career.

Mattia and Wiggins obtained degrees in Athletic Training at Quinnipiac College and Springfield College, respectively. Birecki majored in Physical Education at Central Connecticut State University, but concentrated in Athletic Training.

“When I went to school it was a new profession. Most of the jobs when I first started were the first time a school employed an Athletic Trainer,” said Wiggins.

The trainers stress differences between athletic training at a high school and at other sports institutions.

Birecki said, “I like high school because it’s more about the athletes, and it’s not about winning at all costs. We’re all really student-driven. It’s all about the students.”

Wiggins added, “The athletes here are very appreciative of what I do with them and for them, and that makes my job very rewarding. I want to help them get to the level they want to. We have everything we need to get the athletes better.”

At a school that emphasizes the well-being of its students, the trainers devote their time to making sure that injured athletes are fully healed before returning to the playing field.

“I like working at the high-school level because it becomes more personal, and it follows more of what I believe. If you’re in a divisional college, it’s those kids’ jobs to play. At a high school level, we can get you better and then put you back in,” said Birecki.