Ascension Michigan athletic trainer receives Most Valuable Educator Award for care

After only a year into his career as an athletic trainer with Ascension Borgess, Keenan Begley received the Most Valuable Educator award from Allegan Public Schools.

In such a short time, he has already impacted the high school athletes he treats. In March, Keenan received the nomination from a football student, Brody, whom Keenan treated during the school year.

Brody's football season ended when he tore his ACL while playing in his homecoming game. 

"The hardest thing for me is telling somebody their season's over,” Keenan said.

Keenan was familiar with the feeling of having a season-ending injury, when he suffered a concussion during a football game."When athletes are injured and hurting, they're most vulnerable. They need someone to lean on, which is my job as athletic trainer," he said.

Through Ascension Michigan’s interconnected network, Keenan was able to get Brody evaluated by an Ascension Michigan Sports Medicine orthopedic doctor immediately. An MRI showed that Brody also had a partially torn MCL, which needed to heal before Brody could have surgery on his ACL. Keenan collaborated with Joshua Veenstra, MD, sports medicine surgeon at Ascension Borgess, to develop a pre-surgery treatment plan to prepare the senior football player for surgery. Ascension Borgess athletic trainers work with sports medicine surgeons and orthopedic doctors to evaluate injuries for a recovery plan that’s best for athletes of all ages. 

"You want to do these prehab protocols before surgery to maintain strength and range of motion and blood flow in that area around his ACL," Keenan said. "This helps him get back sooner, and the recovery can be much better if we do the prehab."

After six weeks of prehab, Brody was able to have surgery. It’s been three months since he had surgery and is now on the varsity golf team. Keenan will continue to work with him for rehab and plans to continue to work with him after he graduates. "It's the beauty of my profession. You're there every step of the way," Keenan said.

Keenan developed his love and interest in athletic training when he was a high school student athlete. In his senior year he got hurt often playing football, including receiving a concussion which ended his season. 

"I spent a lot of time with my athletic trainer, Jamie Stranton, that year, and it was a perception change for what I thought the field of athletic training was," he said. "I thought it was just taping ankles, giving out water and whatnot, but it's a lot more than that."

Keenan admired how Jamie developed rehab and treatment plans and the time she spent with each athlete. He was amazed by her knowledge of what exercises are needed for specific injuries and how to take care of them. “She's there to intervene in the small injuries so they don't become long-term injuries or even bigger injuries," he said. 

 It was Jamie who inspired him to become an athletic trainer and help injured students return to playing the game they love. "She was physically and mentally there for me from an athlete standpoint, and I really appreciated that."

Still, Keenan says he was surprised to receive the Most Valuable Educator award because he doesn't see himself as “a teacher.” But sports have taught him valuable life lessons and helped him realize there is a lesson to learn in whatever life throws at you. 

"It's cool to know that I've made a difference in a student-athlete’s life," he said.

Personalized care every step of the way

When you choose Ascension Michigan for sports medicine and orthopedic care, you are connected to highly experienced specialists and surgeons ready to work with you and deliver the care you need, from minimally invasive surgeries that can mean shorter recovery time to physical therapy

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