The October NATA News features a profile on longtime Mesquite Independent School District athletic trainer Bucky Taylor, MEd, ATC, LAT. Throughout his 36-plus-year career, Taylor has focused on concussion management and care. In addition to writing hisschool district’s return-to-play policy, Taylor, along with friend Dennis Hart, ATC, LAT, helped create Texas’ concussion law. He spoke about all 51 state concussion laws as well as the importance of athletic trainers during “Brain Trust – Pathways to InnoVAtion,” held April 20-21 in Washington, D.C. Learn more about Taylor and his experiences as an athletic trainer below:
1. Who has been a major influence on you and why?
Like many people, I have had many mentors influence my life and career. I’m going to choose three. The first is my father. My dad taught me the importance of hard work, compassion and that change is a constant in life. All of these traits have served me well as an athletic trainer. Being a successful athletic trainer requires a good work ethic, compassion for those you care for and the ability to learn from and adapt to change. The second is my good friend and colleague, Dennis Hart. Dennis’ influence has helped me grow as an athletic trainer and become a true professional. I have been fortunate to work in the same school district and community with Dennis. We have pushed and challenged each other throughout the years, and we both have benefited from this. The last is my first team physician, Dr. Joey Pirrung. He took a young, inexperienced athletic trainer under his wing, and gave me a postgraduate education in both medicine and athletic training. His teachings and mentorship have guided me thorough out my career as an athletic trainer.
2. You were an athletic trainer at Mesquite High School for 36 years. What lesson did you learn during that time?
Over my 36-year career at Mesquite High School, I think that the most important thing that I learned as an athletic trainer was patience and flexibility. Not everything is going to go as planned, and because of this you cannot get overly distraught when something does not go the way you think or want it to go. Planning is important to keep situations under control, but be prepared when they do not go as you think they should.
3. What did you learn going through the process of creating Texas’ concussion bill?
There were many lessons learned during this process. The first lesson was that you couldn’t do it alone. You have to have a group of people who are committed to the cause and willing to put in the time and effort to get a bill passed. You have to have a broad base of support from across the state, and it helps tremendously to have a lobbyist who knows their way around the legislature. The second lesson was that politics is not a pretty proposition so you better have thick skin. There are just as many people against you as for you no matter how good your bill is or will be. This is where the real work comes to the front. You have to meet legislators and convince them what you are doing is good for the state and, in our case, the athletes of the state. People will confront you to your face as well as behind your back.
4. What was your biggest take away from the “Brain Trust – Pathways to InnoVAtion”?
I learned that there are a lot of talented people working toward a common goal of properly assessing mild traumatic brain injury, treating MTBI and making our playing fields safer for sports in general.
5. What words of encouragement would you like to share with up-and-coming athletic trainers?
Be a lifelong learner. Nothing will help you more throughout your career than trying to continually learn and keep abreast of new technology, protocols and evidence-based information. Change is a part of life, and by constantly learning, you will help mitigate some of the trials and tribulations that come with change.
6. What goals would you still like to accomplish?
My main goal is to continue to educate athletes, parents and coaches about MTBI and concussion. There is so much misinformation and fear within the media and communities about this important aspect of sports injury. Sports are a good and important part of our society. Unfortunately, concussions can occur in any sport. The key is knowledge. The more you know, the more you can promote safe participation is sports and lower the chance for concussion. This leads to better treatment of the athlete that is recovering from concussion, which allows the athlete to return to activity and have a normal life.