School of Kinesiology and Recreation alum Jeff Stein ’98 has enjoyed a variety of work experiences in his field post-graduation.

Originally from LeRoy, Stein earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology at Illinois Wesleyan University before joining the Illinois State community as a student in the Master of Athletic Training program.

He made the decision to pursue athletic training at Illinois State during his undergraduate years, where he considered his different interests and options for the future.

“I realized I was spending every night and weekend either playing or attending sporting events, so I tried to find a way to combine my degree in biology and my love of science with sports. That led me to look at athletic training programs, and ISU had the perfect program for me,” said Stein.

The School of Kinesiology and Recreation’s program allowed him to start learning and working on athletic training skills right away. The program offered additional opportunities like teaching first aid, weight training, bowling, and billiards classes that helped develop skills he uses in his current position today.

Stein recalled some of his most prominent memories in his time spent at Illinois State, where he was able to meet mentors that helped guide him through the program.

“I remember my first time in the training room looking at an athlete. I was working with the women’s tennis team and had an athlete in for an injury. I asked John Munn (former staff and current assistant athletics director for medical services) to look at the athlete. He looked at me as if I had a tentacle growing out of my head and told me to go evaluate her and let him know if I still needed help afterwards. I was able to figure it out and get things going on my own. He checked back with me later and helped me take my basic knowledge to a higher clinical reasoning level. He threw me in the water but didn’t let me drown. I have considered him a friend and mentor ever since,” he said.

Stein currently serves as the Director of Physical Therapy for the Purdue University Student Health Center, where he is a practicing clinician, clinic manager, and instructor for physical therapy and athletic training students.

“I love my job,” said Stein. “I get to blend everything that I love. Every day I get to do physical therapy and athletic training for Purdue students who are injured, I get to manage and develop a small staff, and I get to mentor be involved in the education of aspiring athletic trainers and physical therapists.”

He noted that the most challenging part of his job is keeping up with the changing nature of health care. In his position, he must remain updated on necessary paperwork for patient care, latest research, and new techniques to provide the most current and relevant treatments and rehabilitation plans. 

Between graduating from Illinois State and landing his most current position, Stein gained experience working with a variety of organizations. He spent time working at McLean County Orthopedics, attended physical therapy school, and served as a staff physical therapist and assistant athletic trainer with Purdue athletics. He also worked as the physical therapist and athletic trainer for the Purdue Men’s Basketball Team for 6 years, and as the team physical therapist for the Chicago White Sox major league baseball team for two seasons.  

With all of his work experiences taken into consideration, he feels that his time spent at Illinois State prepared him well.

“ISU has always had a great tradition of athletic training care and education,” said Stein. “I am proud to have learned at ISU from the people I mentioned before, and have a couple of my former students at Purdue work on staff at ISU. Also, I feel like my graduating class at ISU in the athletic training department has done some really great things.”

Want to learn more?

The School of Kinesiology and Recreation offers two different graduate programs in athletic training, based on students’ undergraduate backgrounds. Check out the school’s website to learn more about these programs and additional opportunities.