Julie Patterson has always wanted to be in the medical field.
“My dad was a doctor in the community for about 20/30 years, so I’ve always been around the medical aspect of things,” she said. “I was trying to find the right job where I could incorporate things that I enjoy; helping people with medical issues and athletics. It took me a while to figure out what athletic training was.”
The 29-year-old Patterson played basketball and softball at Umpqua Valley Christian before graduating in 2003.
“Growing up in Roseburg helped her get settled into the area,” RHS Athletic Director Russ Bolin said. “She has fit in very well. She knew what we were about and she fit right in.”
Patterson was first introduced to athletic training at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say what my favorite sport is, but basketball has always been a love of mine,” Patterson said. “But there are sports I’ve never played before like football, and I love going to football games and being on the sidelines.”
Her love of sports is what drew Patterson to athletic training.
“I was taking a first aid class and my teacher was the athletic trainer,” Patterson said. “She invited me to come and help out, and taught me a lot.”
After graduating from SOU, Patterson moved on to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where she got her degree in athletic training.
Patterson happily returned to Roseburg when the job became available at RHS.
“I get a kid who gets injured in P.E. class or when something happens, I get the occasional student that comes in,” Patterson said. “I also get the coaches and occasionally a teacher. So I’m kind of here for everybody. That’s the nature of it and I love my job.”
Patterson came to Roseburg at the beginning of the school year, when former trainer Kevin Collins became too ill to work due to his battle with cancer.
“She came in during a difficult situation and handled it with the utmost respect and the utmost class,” Bolin said. “There couldn’t have been a better person to step into that position and with her experience and knowledge she has fit in very well.”
When Patterson started in her position she continued the work that Collins had started and didn’t make a lot of changes out of respect for the work Collins had done and the athletic community at Roseburg high school.
“I hadn’t met Kevin until I came here and at the time he was too ill to work, but he came to some of the games and we exchanged phone numbers and I talked to him and had questions for him, and he left a great athletic training injury center,” Patterson said. “Every trainer has their own ways of doing things. Even some of the kids would say, ‘Kevin had me do it this way.’ He helped me on how his system on the computer worked and he was very reassuring and it was nice to have that support.”
Collins, who worked at RHS for 24 years, died in February after a three-year battle with cancer.
“Everyone was very welcoming and helpful and thankful that I could come in and help,” Patterson said. “It was hard with Kevin being sick and I talked with him and he was ... everyone loves Kevin.”
Even though Patterson hadn’t met Collins before coming to Roseburg, the short time that she spent with him and the stories she heard about him, she got teary-eyed talking about the history of the athletic training and injury center.
“Everyone had such good things to say about him. You can’t replace someone like that, but you can just try to fill their shoes,” Patterson said.
Over the past few months Patterson has done just that. She has been a staple at RHS athletic events and has helped dozens of injured students.
“Day-to-day it’s a lot of taping and rehab and the occasional counseling when kids gets frustrated with their injuries,” Patterson said. “Working them through it and helping them stay positive and communicating with the coaches.”
Patterson is trained to stabilize people in emergency situations, but the majority of her job is spent in prevention, rehab and first aid.
“I hope to be here for a very long time,” she said. “This is now my home for hopefully a very long time.”
• You can reach sports reporter Sanne Godfrey at 541-957-4219 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org