Former BHS student trainer receives ETATA scholarship

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Justin Smith, a Class of 2016 graduate from Bullard High School, was recently a recipient of an athletic training scholarship through the East Texas Athletic Trainers Association.

A total of four students from around East Texas received scholarships to help pay for their education as they continue in college as student athletic trainers at the annual ETATA Student Trainer Scholarship Tournament, held Monday, June 6, at Emerald Bay Country Club in Bullard.

“This event is to strictly raise money for our outstanding college scholarship recipients,” said Jeff Shrode, BHS head trainer and chairman of ETATA Scholarship Golf Tournament. “We have two different scholarships that we offer through ETATA. This year, we were able to award four scholarships to some outstanding student trainers.” 

The winners of the Monte Jamison Scholarships were Bullard graduate Smith, planning to attend Tyler Junior College; West Rusk graduate Dewayna Johnson, planning to attend Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches; Kilgore graduate Tristan Graham, planning to attend Kilgore College; and Wills Point graduate Jordan Graham. 

At the ETATA golf tournament, a total of 44 people paired into 11 teams competed and helped to raise the scholarship money. Azalea Orthopedic Team 1 was the winner of the tournament with a score of 41. Azalea Orthopedic Team 3, Team Hamilton, and Team WRL rounded out the top four placements at the tournament, with scores of 42, 45, and 51, respectively.

Other teams participating in the ETATA Scholarship Golf Tournament were Tyler Junior College Administration, TJC Baseball, Texas Student Resource Insurance, Medco Supply, Kids First Insurance and Azalea Orthopedic Team 2 and Azalea Orthopedic Team 4.

Smith, the head student trainer in the Bullard High School athletic department, chose to take a big step in planning for the future, selecting to enroll in the TJC athletic training program next fall.

“I’m very excited about this next step in my life,” said Smith. “Ever since I got the phone call, it’s just been surreal. I can’t wait to see what sport I’m assigned to next year.”

Smith said he chose the TJC athletic training program because of its close proximity to home, as well as the program’s sterling reputation.

“The program is really close to home,” said Smith. “I don’t think I’m ready to go 100 miles away from home. I also chose TJC because of it being a great school and having an outstanding athletic training program.”

Smith has been involved with the BHS athletic department’s student athletic trainers for all for years of his high school tenure, an experience he says helped him to decide athletic training was the correct path for him to take.

“I’m around athletic training basically every day,” said Smith. “[Jeff] ‘Doc’ Shrode holds some pretty high standards for his student trainers and holds us accountable for all we need to do. I have learned a lot from Doc, as well as Abby Eckert and Whitney Scruggs, which I believe added to the experience, in terms of learning from three different perspectives.”

When asked about the impact ‘Doc’ Shrode has had in his athletic training education, Smith said Shrode has been a great influence and has helped him realize the opportunities through athletic training.

“He’s been great, helping me find out what I want to do,” said Smith. “I really appreciate all of his help and all he has done for me.”

After attending TJC for two years, Smith plans to transfer to a university and receive a degree in physical therapy.

Smith’s abilities as a student athletic trainer were recently recognized at the East Texas Athletic Trainers Association Student Workshop, held at the University of Texas at Tyler in January, where he was presented the inaugural East Texas Athletic Trainers Association/CSM Canvas Recognized Student Trainer of the Year award.

Shrode spoke highly of Smith, saying Smith has grown throughout his four years in the athletic training program.

“I am exceptionally proud of Justin,” said Shrode. “It’s rare that we have a student go through the athletic training program all four years of high school. When he began in the program, Justin was the most quiet, shy guy that you could ever meet. Over the past four years, he has really come out of his shell and is one of the most intellectually smart kids we’ve ever had come through the program. Through his involvement in the HOSA organization on campus, as well as other programs and organizations, he brings a lot to the athletic training department in terms of outside knowledge. He is a great leader and example for the other kids to follow. I know he will be very successful, and I look for a very bright future for him.”

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