Excited to feature Women Do founder and athletic trainer Bekah—thank you for sharing your story with us!
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Name: Bekah Hibbert
Location: Louisville, KY
Education: Master’s in Athletic Training
How did you determine what to study in college (and grad school if applicable)?
I played sports my whole life. Eventually, I had to give soccer up in college after my 3rd ACL tear, which devastated me. From that devastation, though, I learned about Athletic Trainers and all the amazing skills they had, from injury prevention to evaluation of the injury, rehabilitation, etc. As someone who still wanted to be involved in sports and loved the idea of helping an athlete recover from injury, it was just an ideal profession for me to combine the things I was passionate about. Once I received my Bachelors’s from Franklin College and was licensed I wanted to continue to gain experience while getting my Master’s. I was extremely lucky to go to the University of South Carolina to continue my education but also had the incredible opportunity to work at Ft. Jackson as an Athletic Trainer for the basic trainees there.
Walk us through your initial job search strategy and how you landed your first full-time role.
My initial job strategy was…get a job. I was trying to stay in South Carolina so I found a job at a hospital that was contracting to local high schools; I applied and interviewed. What I didn’t know, but would come to realize throughout my career, was that my experience as a Graduate Assistant working with the military at Ft. Jackson made me marketable. The military setting for Athletic Trainers (ATs) was very new at the time so having that experience helped get me in the door at places that otherwise may have overlooked me. I didn’t take the GA position for that reason but I learned it was an amazing asset to have something on your resume fresh out of school that made you stand out. It has been 10 years since I worked with the military and people still find that extremely interesting when I mention it.
How did you go from that first role to your current role—what was that journey like for you?
My journey has been interesting and led me to a place I didn’t envision myself 10 years ago but that is what has been so amazing. What I have learned is that your path will change and evolve but if you are doing things that interest you that is all that matters. I only ended up working high school for one year in SC and then eventually moved on to the Division III college setting. That was the setting I was meant to be in and I thought I would be there for the majority of my career. I love rehabilitation; I enjoy working with college-aged students and getting to know them better, and I really liked the pace of DIII compared to high school or DI athletics. The hard part for me is that I ended up at a place I loved with co-workers who were amazing BUT I was getting burned out. I was the only athletic trainer for 16 sports; so I was doing all the practice/game coverage, rehabilitation, administrative work, and being on-call nonstop. It was a pace that was not good for my overall health and I could go a month straight without a day off. Luckily, I worked with an amazing team doctor who saw my hard work and my potential, so when he found out that I had decided to walk away from my college position, he called me and he offered me work in his orthopedic clinic which eventually evolved into the current role I am in, which is on the administrative side of Sports Medicine.
My current role allows me to work with 25+ Athletic Trainers we have in the community, collaborate with our amazing group of sports medicine physicians, coordinate large events like triathlons and marathons, and work as a liaison between various groups within the sports medicine community here in Louisville and the surrounding region. It also allows for a fairly ‘normal’ schedule which has given me the opportunity to work on other things I love doing outside of work, like Women Do and Girls on the Run. It has also given me a little bit of something I wasn’t expecting and that is mentoring younger athletic trainers. It was an unexpected part of my job that I have absolutely loved. I want them to know they can come to me about anything and will do my best to help them work through it.
What advice do you have for young women who want to get into the field of athletic training?
My advice for young women in athletic training is: know that you are capable, refuse to back down, and move on quickly. I have been in more arguments with coaches than I even care to mention. Sports can get heated, the coach’s job is to win and the AT’s job is to protect the student-athlete from injury. That is not in any way saying coaches don’t care deeply about their athletes because they do, but in the heat of the moment the AT may have to pull the most important player for injury and that can cause conflict. I have had coaches tell me I am babying athletes or acting like their mom simply because I am doing my job as the AT. When you are young in the profession that can be intimidating. But, you know what you are doing, you are a medical professional, you are protecting the athletes, so don’t back down because a coach gets in your face or tries to make you feel small. And when the moment or game is over move on. You can’t hold on to everything that gets said in the heat of the moment. Confront what you need to confront. Control what you can control. And know without a shadow of a doubt that if you are doing right by the athlete then you are doing your job the right way.
What has been your biggest career hurdle and what have you learned from navigating it?
Too many to count? Ok, ok, I will just give you one. I got on the phone one day to discuss a job that I had been in for a few years and they were renegotiating my contract because a new entity was taking it over. I was offered less money than what I was making and was basically told I was a dime a dozen and if I walked I could be easily replaced. So I walked, with no idea where I was going next, or what I would do. That scared the absolute crap out of me but here is what that moment of making a choice based on my gut taught me…I know what I am worth, I will work hard and I will go above and beyond, but I will not be treated or paid as less than. I have gotten much better at analyzing how I am feeling in a situation and deciding if I need to move on because in that case I was miserable but didn’t know it until that phone call. The worst moments, the moments of greatest failure, are so often a launching point to your next step. You may not see it right away but when you look back you will realize how it took you to where you needed to be.
Tell me about Women Do? Why did you start it and what are your goals for it?
Women Do is my passion project, it brings me so much joy! It is a blog and social media platform to try and encourage women to live the life they want. To not apologize for being who they are. To love themselves. It is meant to be a safe space for them to talk about the issues they face. I want to empower women in whatever small way I can because we have so much potential to create an amazing world with our gifts and talents.
Women Do came from a career failure, myself and a co-worker had started a Women’s Sports Health program at the hospital we work at. It was something we put our hearts and souls in to. It was a program designed for the female athlete and active woman as a place they could get medical treatment for orthopedic injuries but also as community outreach. We hosted small events and brought in speakers to discuss the different things that females face in regards to injury and other concerns facing them, including mental health. The hospital folded the program into our larger program, so in essence, it ceased to exist. This devastated me beyond words. I was furious and heartbroken. I have always been in love with writing but with the loss of that program, I just started furiously writing every day when I would get home. What I saw was a connection in all my writing, I still wanted to empower women, so I decided I would do it in a place I created and I made all the decisions and Women Do was born.
My goals for Women Do are to do a few mini-courses throughout the year to get to know the women who follow me better and to encourage them. My first will be a week-long confidence course online, that will just hopefully help motivate and give the participants more confidence in their daily life. I am looking to continue to improve my writing, work with guest bloggers, and would love to do small speaking engagements to continue to empower women in my community and beyond.
What is one piece of advice about living fearlessly that you want to share with others?
The most beautiful thing you can learn on this journey is to love yourself and to be who you are with no apologies for it. I used to go through life thinking I needed to change things about the way I look especially, and then one day I was just sick of being my own worst enemy. I was sick of allowing the world to tell me who I should be or what I should look like. The moment you give yourself the freedom to love yourself is the moment the world opens up to you because you start living for you and doing the things you want to do. It is incredible the joy that comes from being who you are and who you are meant to be.
Do you have a mentor? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?
My sister is a huge support, inspiration, and mentor. She is fearless, incredibly intelligent and does not care what other people think about her (in the best way possible). She more than anyone has taught me how to be who I am with no apologies and to live on my terms.
Robin Curry is an amazing physician I work with who I am lucky enough to also call my friend. She is always there with sound professional advice and listens to me rant but she also inspires me with how she carries herself. She is raising three amazing daughters, working a grueling sports medicine physician schedule, and yet manages to still make everyone she meets feel important. She also introduced me to Girls on the Run and I am forever indebted to her for that.
I have some of the most incredible friends in the world. Women that I absolutely adore who sit down and let me vent about work or life. Who text just to see how I am doing. That makes me laugh and who genuinely cares about how I am doing. If I tried to name them all I would miss one and feel terrible but they know who they are. And I am DAMN lucky to have them.
Final words of wisdom to all the young women out there who are strategizing to reach their education, career, and wellness goals?
You will fail. You will feel lost sometimes. And there will be times when you have no idea what the next step is. THAT IS OK!!! The best thing you can do for yourself is to believe in who you are. And to know that one step forward is always better than standing still out of fear. Get uncomfortable, make a few choices that scare the crap out of you, fail and get back up, and HAVE FUN along the way!
If you are open to connecting with our readers, how can they reach you?
Instagram @women_do or via email email@example.com