by Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
Each had a different passion. One always wanted to be a teacher. Another developed a love for research. Yet another was an often-injured athlete herself.
But no matter the reason, each found themselves wanting to become athletic trainers. And each found their way to the University of Kentucky’s Rehabilitation Sciences doctoral program, where they met and became friends.
Johanna Hoch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition, and Program Director of the Professional Masters in Athletic Training. Dr. Hoch graduated from the University of Kentucky with her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences in 2012. She completed her Master of Science from Ohio University and her Bachelor of Science from Ohio Northern University.
Dr. Hoch’s research focuses on improving the provision of patient-centered care in athletic training clinical practice through the utilization of patient-reported outcome instruments and improving health related quality of life for individuals with a history of musculoskeletal injury, primarily ACL reconstruction.
“I grew up pretending to play teacher everyday,” she said. “I just loved it. And I was able to bring teaching and athletic training together.”
Matt Hoch joined the University of Kentucky in July 2017 as a faculty member in the Athletic Training program. He is currently the Associate Director for the Sports Medicine Research Institute. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training in 2006 from East Stroudsburg University and his Masters of Science degree in Athletic Training from Ohio University in 2008.
In addition, he received his PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Kentucky in 2011. His research interests involve mitigating sensorimotor compromise and enhancing patient-centered care following traumatic lower extremity injuries to reduce the long-term consequences of these conditions over the lifespan. Dr. Hoch’s previous work has largely focused on identifying novel therapeutic intervention strategies for patients with chronic ankle instability.
“I got into athletic training because I just thought it had a huge potential to help people,” he said. “While I was going through my undergrad studies and my master's work, I really started to develop a passion for research — so that's what brought me to UK.”
Carrie Baker received her Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine from Castleton State College (Castleton, VT ), her master’s degree in Athletic Training at Old Dominion University, and graduated from the Rehabilitation Scienc
es Doctoral Program at the University of Kentucky in 2012. Baker was previously the Graduate Athletic Training Program Director at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for five years, and before that, Clinical Coordinator for two years, and is excited to bring her experience in professional graduate athletic training education to the University of Kentucky.
“I became an athletic trainer because I was an injured athlete a lot,” she said. “I grew up in rural Maine but at a really big high school. So we had an athletic trainer and I bonded with them pretty well and they offered to kind of tell me about the profession, to give me some ins and outs of what to look for as I was going to college. I worked as a clinical athletic trainer for two years at a Division I institution, and then I was asked to start adjunct teaching, doing like an intro to athletic training class. That gave me the teaching bug.”
Now, all three — along with other athletic training faculty — are helping to start the new professional Athletic Training Master’s Program — in the most challenging time for educators in anyone’s recent memory.
“All the aspects that make UK what it is — from the research on the medical side of campus, to the athletic side of campus — that was one of the best parts about being athletic trainers in the rehabilitation sciences doctoral program. We got to see all of those things in motion,” Johanna Hoch said. “Leaving, and then getting to come back and really build this program from the start — that's what we're doing, we’re putting into motion all those different aspects that we got exposed to while we were students here.”
But, like a certain athletic conference says on its commercials, this program just means more to these professors.
“It’s family,” Johanna Hoch said. “The people who taught me, and who I work with, and now who I teach, have been around for holidays and birthdays and births. They are very important in my life. It is personal. We do really care about our students and I know our alumni recognize that too.”
“We are all teaching because of our level of expertise — either in an area of research, or what we’ve done in practice,” Carrie Baker said. “And because of that, there’s a high level of passion for making sure we are educating our students in the right way.”
Baker said she’s observed that professors do not want students to just read a book take it for face value.
“If you read an article, you need to critically appraise and critically think,” she said.
“I think of the University slogan, you know that everything is Wildly Possible,” Matt Hoch said. “I think that fits our program really well, because we've had some students go on to do really amazing things, and it’s a product of giving them the opportunity to run in the direction they want to go in.”
Of course, the past year has been a challenge for both students and faculty.
“A lot of the credit goes to Johanna, taking the lead and figuring out how to organize the curriculum to best suit the situation,” Carrie Baker said. Figuring out schedules, because everything flipped on its ear, and all at once, we're delivering what we thought was going to be in-person content through Zoom.”
Johanna Hoch has a famous phrase the she’s quoted often over the past year: Adapt and Overcome.
“I came here in 2017 to develop the program and be ready for 2020,” Johanna Hoch said. “So for three years we had these grandiose visions of the first day and everything that was going to happen. Then the first day was not anything like I ever thought it would be.”
It was on Zoom. No one could come to class. But everyone figured out how to adapt. And how to overcome.
“We just had to make it work,” Johanna Hoch said. “And to everyone's credit, we all banded together and just figured out how to have orientation online, and met students and mailed them tape so they could do labs at home.”
“The students got on board and they deserve credit in their own right, because they really hung in there, too,” Matt Hoch said.
Now, with students back in classes, these faculty are sometimes teaching alongside their former mentors — a situation that can be both inspiring and daunting, they say.
“That was a surreal experience,” Carrie Baker said. “I wasn’t a little nervous — I was a lot nervous. It was such a great opportunity, but it was still surreal.”
“Literally just being back in the same hallways, and some of the same offices that you used to sit in — on the other side of the desk — it’s wonderful to be back,” Johanna Hoch said.
“There’s also a pressure that goes with that,” Matt Hoch said. “We come from a history of excellence and it's now our job to uphold that.”
With this kind of family leadership and passion, students and faculty say they are certain it will be upheld.
They will all Adapt and Overcome.
“The saying has never been more fitting,” Matt Hoch said. “And I think with that mindset — not just for the present, but also for the future — we can deal with anything that comes our way.”
March is National Athletic Training Month!
National Athletic Training Month is held every March in order to spread awareness about the important work of athletic trainers. The College of Health Sciences will be recognizing and honoring our Athletic Training program with profiles and stories throughout this month.
Interested in applying to UK’s Athletic Training program? Visit us here.