Basketball fans love the power of the game. The fast-paced plays, a buzzer-beating basket from the three, rallying behind their favorite team. But behind-the-scenes is a passionate athletic trainer working with these guys daily to rehabilitate them into the best player they can be on the floor.
Stephen Kim is now in his second year of his Graduate Assistantship with the NSU men’s basketball team. After attending Baylor University for four years, Kim decided to apply at NSU after hearing about this program from an athletic trainer at Baylor. Even though he applied to many other colleges and universities, he chose NSU because they offered him men’s basketball, where his true passion lies.
Kim has played basketball his entire life. He fell in love with the game at an early age, and he’s never let go of it. It became a stress reliever in his
“Whatever’s happening in my life, I can just come on the floor with the ball and shoot for hours and just take my mind off things,” Kim said. “It’s pretty cheesy, but basketball’s always been there for me.”
His love and passion for the game has continuously grown, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by his coaching staff.
Head Coach Mike McConathy describes Kim as a “breath of fresh air.”
Coach McConathy said Kim’s passion for the game shows in his work and that he is a great influence on the team.
“If all our players were as passionate as Stephen Kim, it’d be hard for us to lose a ball game,” Coach McConathy said.
Kim is also very grateful for the staff at NSU. This program grants him the independence to grow as a trainer and figure out what does and doesn’t work for him, which is something that most athletic trainers don’t get to experience.
This program also gave him an opportunity he never thought was available. He got to dress out at the end of last season and play in a varsity game. When Coach McConathy would tell Kim he’d like to see him dress out last season, Kim thought he was joking. Then one day Coach McConathy gave him a jersey, shoes and a locker, and his childhood dream became a reality.
“It was very surreal to me to say the least,” Kim said. “I had given up that dream after high school to play college ball, but Coach Mike and the coaching staff gave me the opportunity to play. It was really a dream come true.”
This year Kim had to rehabilitate two major point guards back to health. While watching athletes get injured is the worst part of the job for Kim and heartbreaking, getting players healthy again and watching them get back on the floor and succeed is the best part.
After Kim gets his master’s at the end of this semester, he plans on moving to Missouri to marry his fiancé and college sweetheart Janet. Since he started his assistantship in Natchitoches and she started medical school in Missouri, they’ve been in a long-distance engagement.
Kim recognizes that it’s difficult to talk every day since they’re both constantly busy, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love each other or don’t want to talk. They just have to be understanding of each other’s schedules and each other’s lives.
Kim thinks more about leaving and getting married now than when his assistantship began, but he’s truly loved being able to be a part of the team here and having such a supportive coaching staff.
“I can trust that they’re just so supportive of me, and it’s been so great,” Kim said. “I think that and being part of the basketball team is the best part of being here. As long as the team wins games, I’m happy with that. I couldn’t have asked for more.”