Faculty Focus Friday | Danny Cobble, Assistant Professor of Athletic Training

Steve Jones
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Spalding Athletic Training Faculty Danny Cobble

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. In recognition of March as National Athletic Training Month, this week’s featured faculty member is Daniel “Danny” Cobble, Assistant Professor and Clinical Education Coordinator in Spalding’s Master of Science in Athletic Training program. Professor Cobble, who joined the Spalding faculty in August 2020, is a Louisville native who has been a certified athletic trainer (ATC) since 2003 and who has broad clinical experience at the highest levels of athletics, including serving as the head athletic trainer for the Western Kentucky University football team and an assistant athletic trainer for the University of South Carolina football team. He also interned for the Philadelphia Eagles. He most recently served as an athletic trainer at Providence High School in Indiana. Professor Cobble holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a master’s from South Carolina, and he is currently pursuing a doctorate in Health Professions Education from Bellarmine University. Professor Cobble can be contacted at [email protected].

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

Being that I have been an athletic trainer for 20-plus years, I’ve always had students or interns who I’ve worked with in some fashion to help develop. When (MSAT Program Director Dr. John Nyland) called me about the position, I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some practical teaching experience while I completed my PhD. Then you look at the program, it was the first entry-level athletic training program in the state. The program and the students are already established, and people in the community know about Spalding, so I felt it would be a good opportunity to help mold and build the next generation of athletic trainers who are going to be coming up.

I liked the fact that it’s small class sizes, and it’s in downtown Louisville, and the program and university already has connections with a lot of high schools in the city that I was familiar with. That appealed to me. I felt the staff were quality people and thought it would be a good fit.

What is your academic specialty or areas of expertise or research?

My responsibility here at Spalding is teaching the foundational classes – the intro to athletic training classes – and I also teach emergency care and management. Being that I was a clinician for 25 years, emergency care and management is something that we reviewed and practiced yearly, so I guess I have a special qualification for that. I am teach the clinical education courses. After the student completes their first, the clinical education courses are designed to teach the book knowledge they’ve learned and transfer it into clinical practice. Again, being that I was a clinician for so long, I think that qualifies me to help make (students) make transition. … I help the students find clinical rotations around the city or around the country. I also advise the students on scholarships.

As far as my academic research area, my doctoral dissertation is centered around low minority representation in athletic training. Only about 5 percent of certified athletic trainers in the country are minorities, so that is a big disproportion in the profession, like a lot of health professions.

Do you think that for students to see you as an African-American athletic trainer and professor could have an impact on helping people gain interest in the profession?

I think it does. I don’t know that I saw my first Black athletic trainer until I was almost 30 years old. With anything representation is important because it allows you to aspire to something. Kind of like, “If he did it, I can do it.” Also, it just gives someone somebody you can relate to. … So I think it’s very important especially for, say, Black males to see that there is a Black male professor in their profession.

Why is athletic training a good option for students to consider as a graduate program and as a career?

There are a lot of kids who play sports and are athletes all their lives until they get to a point where when high school sports ends, they’re not sure what they want to do. For those who still want to stay around sports and have interest in some type of medical field, I think athletic training is a great career option. I was a high school athlete, but I was 5-10 and too short to play college basketball. So I discovered athletic training, and it was a way to keep me close to the sport. Some people choose to go the physical therapy route, and that is fine, but PT and occupational therapy tend to work with the general population. I knew that I wanted to stay with sports and with athletes and with people who competed on a high level. For those people, I think athletic training for those students is a good profession to consider. With it, you get the opportunity to branch out with your experiences. I’ve got several classmates who are working in the NFL. A couple of my former students are working in Major League Baseball. I have a friend who works with the US Tennis Association, and she gets contracted to travel to Wimbledon and the US Open and work on rehab with the athletes. She’s worked with Serena Williams and some big stars. I know people who have been athletic trainers who have gone on later to work in hospital settings or as ER assistants. Some work in industrial settings like Ford or Toyota. It’s an opportunity that allows you to be as creative as you want as far as the field and the specialty that you want to pursue.

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging?

The class that I think is one of the most engaging for students is when we do emergency care and we start doing the spine-boarding process or the assessment of a spine-injured athlete. When I get into the details of everything we have to consider from c-spine and mobilization, to checking nerves and pulse and breath rates, to cutting off football helmet facemasks and shoulder pads and showing how to do it and where to cut, and how to log-roll and how to life and strap them to the spineboard, the students find that really engaging. It’s a high-stress situation that they know they could encounter one day in practice, so while we’re teaching and practicing it, we make it kind of high-stress. We often sit when we finish and debrief, and I make sure to take that time to make sure (the students’) nerves are back down, heart rates back down.

What is an interesting thing you have in your office?

I started Aug. 15, and the first day of class was Aug. 20, so I really had to hit the ground running. I haven’t put stuff up in my office yet. I have box in the trunk of my car with trinkets from the Eagles and South Carolina and Western Kentucky, and I just haven’t put it up yet. But the the most interesting thing that I have that I want to put in my office is when I was at the Eagles, (Pro Football Hall of Fame player) Brian Dawkins signed a jersey for me, and I have that in a frame. That will go up at some point.

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding?

The diversity within our program is big, and that is apparent in the racial diversity of the students in our cohorts.

Also, as I am doing my clinical assignments, I make sure our students get a rotation at the area high schools that are underserved and that have different resources and budgets than more affluent schools.

Obviously, we also encourage our students to provide help to those who need help, those who are less fortunate, and we make sure we give them rotations working with non-athletic populations as well so that they can see this is how your skills can help anyone in the community who needs help. As health professionals, we’re really big on helping those who need help.

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