Taylor Heckert

“Talking to the current students and faculty of the program itself is what drew me here.”

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Degree:
Dance and Kinesiology , University of Kentucky
Graduate Degree:
Athletic Training

How did you become interested in athletic training?

One of my undergraduate degrees is in dance from the University of Kentucky and dance has been a big part of my life growing up. I always knew that I wanted dance to stay an important part of my life, but I also wanted to incorporate medical care for dancers within my profession.

One of my interests in athletic training is dance medicine and how we can perform pre-participation screenings with dancers and provide healthcare and sports medicine treatment for dancers, even though it may not be seen as a big division one sport.

What drew you to WVU for your graduate education?

I was drawn to WVU because of the faculty. When we interviewed and talked with a few of the current students, that also helped me to get a perspective of what my experience at WVU would be like. Talking to the current students and faculty of the program itself is what drew me here.

Tell us more about your research focus while attending the School of Medicine.

I do research with the Athletic Training program in the Mountaineer Sports Medicine Research Laboratory. My main research focus is looking at the risk factors that contribute to ACL injuries and return-to-sport protocols. ACL injuries are devasting and require a long recovery for all athletes that undergo a reconstruction. We know that after an athlete tears their ACL once they have a greater chance of either re-tearing that ACL or tearing the opposing limb.

My area of interest specifically looks at understanding what mechanical and neuro-muscular factors contribute to that increased risk of injury. I am currently working on an ACL testing program along with WVU Athletics and the Mountaineer Sports Medicine Research Laboratory to work with our clinicians to screen athletes that are post-operation and create a more comprehensive rehab plan for them.

You were recently awarded the National Athletic Training Association Research and Education Foundation Scholarship Award. Tell us more about the award and what it means to you to be selected for this scholarship.

I received the PFATS Lamar “Bubba” Tyler Scholarship that is sponsored by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society and is presented by the National Athletic Training Association Research & Education Foundation. The scholarship is used to support athletic training students and their education. It’s a very competitive scholarship where professional experience, service to the profession, professional accomplishments and leadership are evaluated when determining who gets selected. I feel very honored and grateful to receive this scholarship. It feels nice to receive recognition for the hard work that I have put into my college career thus far.   

What are some of your career goals in the future?

In the future I have a lot of opportunities within our profession. I talked a little bit about how my dance career has shaped me wanting to be an athletic trainer, so going into dance medicine is a big interest of mine and a big possibility.

I also enjoy working clinically and the clinical experiences that I’ve had with WVU thus far. I enjoy the research aspect that I’ve had throughout my master’s program so I would also consider seeking out a Ph.D. I’m not sure exactly where I want to go next year when I graduate but I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have right now.

Anything else you would like to add?

Through the Mountaineer Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, I did scientific abstracts that I will be presenting at different national conferences. I will be presenting my original research at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting and at the National Athletic Trainers Association Convention this summer.