Whole-Body Care for Collegiate Athletes

March 14, 2024 by Kristin Carroll
Providing Whole-Body Care for Collegiate Athletes

This year, the National Athletic Training Month theme, “From Head to Toe,” highlights the whole-body, whole-person care ATs provide their patients. Throughout March, NATA Now is highlighting members from across the settings. These eight ATs, also featured in the March NATA News, are examples of how ATs are advancing the profession through their direct and indirect efforts.


When Justine Coliflores, MA, ATC, associate athletic trainer at the University of San Diego, first learned she had received the 2023 National Staff Athletic Trainer of the Year from the NATA Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine, she initially reacted with confusion.

“I don’t do this for recognition,” she said. “I do this for the athletes because their energy fuels me. I think it was about a month before I told anybody.”

Coliflores said when she finally did tell the people she worked with, she was trying to figure out who nominated her for the award; she eventually found out it was a former boss and mentor, Carolyn Greer, MA, LAT, ATC.

Her feelings have since evolved, Coliflores said.

“I’m truly honored,” she said. “It’s awesome to represent women and minorities in this profession. I have a lot of reach with athletic training students, so to be a role model and show that women do belong here, and we can get it done, I love it.”

Coliflores has been an athletic trainer at USD for 15 years, currently working with baseball, golf and women’s soccer. She received her master’s in kinesiology from San Diego State University and served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of San Diego after graduation.

“That was supposed to be a two-year job, but an assistant AT at the time left after a year, so the spot opened up really quickly,” she said. “I worked really hard to be here and prove myself and stay. My boss knows that I’m not really going anywhere.”

USD is a private, Catholic university. Coliflores, who was raised Catholic, said that faith plays a big part in caring for athletes “From Head to Toe.”

“Just a small degree of faith [adds another] degree of overall wellness with the athletes here who have a faith background,” she said.  

Coliflores said she views herself as a teacher to the athletes, educating them on their physical and mental well-being. That includes helping athletes through their feelings on having to come to the athletic training facility after an injury.

“I want to take the stigma of coming in here away,” she said. “You’re hurt. You can’t play because of some trauma. I want them to be comfortable taking care of their bodies before it’s an issue.”

She focuses on encouraging her athletes and cross training areas of the body they may think they don’t need for their sport, for example, posture in baseball.

“They may think, ‘This is lame,’ because I'm not specifically doing what they think is functional for sport,” Coliflores said. “But now I'm working their full body, which then ultimately changes and supports their mechanics when they're out there on the field.”

Coliflores said her favorite memory of her 15-year career, so far, was when the baseball team won its conference tournament in 2022.

“I remember looking around while we’re celebrating on the field and realizing I was one of the few women out there,” she said. “Their love and respect for both me as a person and as their primary health care provider, that felt really good.”