'Women in Sports' Profile: CWU Athletic Trainer Kari Gage
It didn't take Kari Gage long to prove herself as the Wildcats' head athletic trainer for football.
It didn't take Kari Gage long to prove herself as the Wildcats' head athletic trainer for football.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fifth in a series 

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. 

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event.

Kari Gage, Central Washington University
Head Athletic Trainer/Senior Woman Administrator 

Kari Gage was named Central Washington University’s head athletic trainer and senior woman administrator (SWA) in 2008.

Gage is responsible for the athletic training needs of CWU’s 15 varsity sports. She directs a staff of two full-time assistant athletic trainers and four graduate assistants. Gage’s primary responsibility on-field activity is serving as the trainer for the Wildcat football team. Along with those on-field responsibilities, she also guides organizational planning, university policy development and NCAA policy implementation.  

Prior to becoming the head athletic trainer, Gage served for four years as an assistant athletic trainer at Central. She worked with the women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and baseball programs in addition to assisting with pre-season camp for the Wildcat football team.
As SWA Gage serves internally on the athletics executive board, athletic compliance committee, Hall of Fame selection committee and Title IX task force. She is also the athletic department’s liaison to the CWU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she is involved with improving CWU’s student-athlete experience and community engagement. She also works to ensure Title IX standards along with commitment to diversity and inclusion are met.

Externally, she is a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Management Council and SWA committee, the NCAA Division II West Region Advisory Committee for women’s soccer, and the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators legislation and governance committee.

A native of Haines, Alaska, she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2002 at Eastern Oregon University, where she played women’s basketball for two years (1998-2000) with the Mountaineers.

Colleges attended:

  • Eastern Oregon University
  • Central Washington University

College major: Sports Medicine/Health

Current position: Head Athletic Trainer/ Senior Woman Administrator  at Central Washington University

Years in current position: 7 years

Primary job responsibilities: Oversee all aspects of the CWU Athletic Training Department. Sports supervisor for baseball and softball. Member of CWU senior staff. Assist in decision making regarding budgets, student-athlete experience, strategic planning, marketing, evaluations, and game day operations.

Things I enjoy most about my job: I enjoy working with student-athletes and helping them achieve their goals and become positive and productive citizens. Also I enjoy constantly working to maintain and improve the student-athlete experience.

First job in the sports industry: Head Athletic Trainer at Ellensburg (Wash.) High School

Previous jobs in the sports industry: Assistant Athletic Trainer at Central Washington University

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: Key mentors that have pushed me to where I am today are the two athletic directors that I have worked under, Jack Bishop and Dennis Francois. They both saw the potential in me and pushed me to do more, become more involved, and encouraged me to reach for my goals.

Most influential person in my early professional development:  I would honestly have to say my parents. They always pushed me to succeed. They were and always have been positive and encouraging in everything I have set my mind to.

How I got involved in my professional career: Being a student-athlete I got to understand the sports medicine field. I always wanted to be involved in the medical field and when I discovered an opportunity to be involved in athletics and medicine I knew it was the right career for me.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: My biggest hurdle is when I became the head athletic trainer at CWU. I started working with football. There were some adjustments that had to be made being a female and being young. Some had their doubts and concerns, wondering if I could handle it without ever working with me. But with my hard work and dedication, those individuals quickly changed their minds. My work environment has been great and I truly love working with football.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: My work ethic, dedication, competitive spirit, empathy and drive to always improve and be better than I was yesterday.

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: I went straight into my full time career right out of college. If I could do it again I would take the time to do a couple internships and get more experience in other work environments.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: Be your best advocate. Find a mentor that can help guide you through the ups and downs. Be prepared for the time and effort needed to succeed in sports.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be? I would spend it with athletic director of St. Francis College, Irma Garcia. I have met her a few times and she is one of the strongest, no nonsense women I have ever met. She always gives great advice and is positive and encouraging. I feel like she would help me understand what it takes to be a great athletic director.

Favorite sports team: Seattle Seahawks

Favorite athlete: Misty May-Treanor

Most memorable sports-related moment: Way too many to count. When you are involved with teams -- especially as an athletic trainer -- all their successes are memorable. I have been doing this for 14 years  -- lots of ups and downs!