AIKEN — Catherine Tisler had the ankle injury, the knee surgeries and the rundown of other setbacks many athletes can rattle off.
So when she sees someone favor an ankle or struggle through a day’s practice, she knows what to do and say. She’s a living testimony.
“I was the injured athlete all the time; there was always something wrong. So I got into the habit of really learning as opposed to just going through the rehab process. I found it really interesting,” Tisler said. “Being a previously injured athlete, I had the empathy to be able to be like, ‘I know it sucks. I know you’re hurting and you want to push through.’ ”
Tisler, a 2009 Augusta Prep and 2013 Appalachian State graduate, will be going westward as a graduate student to serve as an athletic trainer with the Boise State football team. Tisler will get her master’s degree in kinesiology there and will also help mentor undergrads. She previously received her bachelor’s degree in athletic training and received four years of clinical experience while at Appalachian State.
The Aiken native’s first day of work in Boise is July 22, with classes starting in August. Justin Smith, her mentor and the Mountaineers’ head athletic trainer in football, heard about an opening for a grad assistant. Tisler applied for and eventually got the job.
Before she went to college, Tisler played volleyball at Augusta Prep and was earlier a competitive dancer. But she minored in dance in college, so she still thinks like an athlete. She still lives through the sores.
As a longtime athlete who’s an athletic trainer, Tisler can easily spot the signs. If someone is running a little slower than usual, there could be a problem. She also knows to take a close look at freshmen, as those student-athletes are getting accustomed with tough college workout schedules.
Now she’ll work for a perennial Top-25 program, a Broncos team known for routinely racking up double-digit win seasons and appearing on television – and for its field.
“I’m definitely familiar with that blue field. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. I thought about getting a blue carpet or something to kind of adjust,” Tisler said jokingly. “It’s going to be exciting – I’ll be the one with the bow in my hair. It’s a dream job, to be at that competitive level, doing what I love to do.”