The mom who forces her daughter into being a “model” and then creates a poor relationship between the two. The dad who never quite figured out high school football but ensures everyone knows he used to play. Now, he expects perfection from his son on the gridiron, even though he may not love it. They are typically the people we would associate with living vicariously through someone else. This is not always the case, however.
Dani Moulton is an athletic trainer at the University of Northern Colorado. She works with both the football and track and field teams at UNC. She also, in a way, lives vicariously through others.
“These people are your life,” Moulton said. “Their joys are your joys, and their heartbreaks are yours.”
She would also say she never anticipated the level of care she has for her athlete, but knew that they would be a huge part of her life. She expected close and personal relationships with athletes. In fact, it was part of the reason Moulton went into athletic training, but she had no idea it would be this important in her life.
Moulton always knew she wanted to work with sports teams, considering physical therapy before college, but then she realized she was meant for athletic training and has never looked back.
Whether it be wrapping ankles for the football team, showing athletes certain exercises or writing stacks of workouts every day, Moulton is busy all day. Through it all, she is smiling and cracking jokes with her athletes.
“Dani works very hard and has made an effort to form a great relationship with me,” said August van de Weijer, a senior on the track team. “Although she started new this semester, she stepped up and has really helped me.”
Moulton is watching over athletes as they complete their exercises and is willing to help them in any way she can. Part of the reason for those close, personal relationships she has with her athletes is the level at which she cares about them.
“Not to say that everybody else here doesn’t care,” Moulton said. “But I care a lot, and I try to put that into everything that I do.”
The reason is that she feels she can help the athletes the most is if she feels like she is doing her best. To feel like Moulton is doing her best, she wants to show the athletes that she cares. She even ties her personal view of professional success into this idea.
She knows the main goal of her job is to ensure the athletes are well taken care of. Again, she said in order to achieve that, she wants to finish every day knowing she did her best. To establish this feeling of knowing she did her best she wants to make sure all athletes feel healthy, happy, safe and secure.
While the athletes are the most rewarding part of Moulton’s job, they are also the most challenging part of it she says humbly and with a laugh after much deliberation about how to correctly and politely voice her feelings. She says the challenge is trying to give everyone the attention they deserve. There’s only 24 hours in a day and she is just one person. She does her best though.
Despite what her athletes may think, there is more to her than just being an athletic trainer. Moulton loves musicals. She laughs to herself about how she can quote Hamilton at any time. She loves her golden retriever and spends lots of time with them. In fact, she says her lunch breaks are spent going home to walk her dog. She also really loves hockey, especially the Colorado Avalanche. She laughs to herself again as she describes it as the greatest sport of all time.
Her dedication, commitment and care are what drive her through long days. In the end, these long days are all worth it to Moulton to see her athletes’ healed injuries and find success in their sport.
“But what’s a day if you’re not working eleven hours?” Moulton said.