The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Meet Amber Kinney: Lafayette football’s first female primary contact athletic trainer

As a primary contact athletic trainer, Amber Kinney works with student-athletes on both their physical and mental well-being. (Photo courtesy of Philip LaBella)
Amber Kinney discusses how she decided to pursue a career working with athletes. (Photo courtesy of Philip Labella)

As a student-athlete, it can be despairing to receive the news that you have a potentially career-ending injury. Faced with similar news herself when she was a young athlete, Amber Kinney transformed the uncertainty around the announcement into a passion for rehabilitating student-athletes as an athletic trainer.

Kinney, who joined Lafayette in March 2021, is the first female primary contact athletic trainer for the Lafayette football team. She also works with the fencing team. Her tasks include tending to student-athletes that get injured during practices or games, and addressing any aches and pains that they may have afterward. 

Kinney was an avid dancer in high school, practicing styles ranging from ballet to breakdancing. However, an injury her sophomore year left her wondering if she’d be able to dance again.

“When I was in high school, I had a stress fracture to my lower back and my athletic trainer helped me through that,” Kinney said. “I’ve always wanted to do something in the medical field, so between working with him and always loving sports, I figured athletic training would be perfect.”

After her rehabilitation and return to dance, Kinney pursued a career in athletic training.

The Wyalusing, Pa. native earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative health science from Stetson University in 2016, then completed a year at Texas Arlington before finishing her master’s degree in athletic training at East Stroudsburg University.

Kinney was exposed to Lafayette through a 2017 internship in which she worked at Metzgar Fields as well as with the football team. 

“I love the dynamic of the staff. Not everywhere you go, you have such a tight-knit community where your coworkers are always looking out for you,” Kinney said. “If something happens with your family or you’re sick, they’re very empathetic and sympathetic with everything, which definitely makes it a great workplace environment when you’re here for such long hours. It’s a family.”

Kinney said that since she is closer to the student-athletes in age, they feel quite comfortable talking to her. She explained, however, that some of the student-athletes are more willing than others to open up about their issues, whether it’s about an injury or their classes.

“If they don’t feel comfortable talking to me, we have a couple of males on staff for football as well,” she said.

Due to her strong bond with the players, Kinney said that she can tell by the player’s body language when they come in what kind of day they’re having. She makes sure to check in with them after practice and reminds them of their resources if she feels they may need that.

“Football can be their stress relief. But being a student-athlete it might be something that is stressing them as well,” she said.

Kinney enjoys that her profession always keeps her on her toes and allows her to be involved with football, a sport her dad coached for over 20 years. While working in the athletic training room at the Bourger Varsity Football House is a huge part of her role, Kinney really enjoys on-the-field work.

“If someone ends up going down the field, I’m the person that will be running out there, getting the [evaluation], and making sure they’re okay,” she said. “I feel as if what goes on on the field is more thrilling because you don’t know what you’re going to get in this profession.”

One difficult part of Kinney’s job is having to break some difficult news to the players she cares about – news she remembers hearing herself.

“I basically live here, so you develop bonds with the players. Their parents are trusting me with their health,” she said. “It is hard, especially when you see someone that you’ve worked so hard or long with, have an injury that could be potentially career-ending. Just seeing how they react to it is upsetting, which is one of the hardest things because you never want to have to tell someone that they’re out for a few weeks or the rest of the season.”

Kinney used to work with the softball and field hockey teams, and she still keeps in contact with them to make sure that they’re doing okay and to let them know that she is still a resource for them even if she’s not their primary trainer anymore.

“It’s nice having a good community around us and the football team is great,” she said. “All the other teams I’ve worked with here are phenomenal as well.”

Something Kinney had expressed previous challenges with was being a female working in a male-dominated sport. She worried about earning the respect of not only the athletes but of the coaches as well. Working at Lafayette, however, some of those fears have faded away.

“I haven’t come across any of our athletes [who] are disrespectful, but it’s something that’s always in the back of my mind,” she said. “Since I’m a young female and I’m not even thirty yet, are they going to see me more as a friend instead of the person who’s taking care of my health?”

Kinney added that the whole coaching staff has been a great support system, noting that Athletic Director Sherryta Freeman is a great advocate and role model. 

“It’s a breath of fresh air because not everywhere you go will have that good dynamic,” she said.

While ultimately Kinney would love to work with the NFL, her “heart is with Lafayette right now,” and she doesn’t see herself leaving the College Hill family any time soon.

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About the Contributor
Caroline McParland
Caroline McParland, Sports Editor

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    Barbara FischerSep 26, 2022 at 11:00 am

    Great article and very informative. Makes me want to lead a few people I know into this awesome field.