Athletic trainer Josh Bellavance is one of the many fresh faces in the Vassar College training staff. With two new athletic trainers this year, a junior student-athlete may suddenly walk into the training room and experience that sense of unfamiliarity that usually only happens to freshman. Bellavance comes to Vassar College after having worked extensively in a variety of settings. He received his undergraduate degree in Sports Medicine from Xavier University and Master’s in Human Performance from Ithaca College.
There are multiple reasons that Bellavance chose to work at Vassar. “I enjoy the feel and atmosphere of smaller schools. I enjoy getting to know and learn the heart of the communities I’ve become a part of,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “I find the campus and surrounding areas to be quite beautiful — the architecture, landscaping, the blending of older structures contrasted against newer, more modern entities. Given Vassar’s prominent academic reputation, I was happy to accept a position where I knew the student-athletes would take an active interest in their health.” The individuality of expression for each student was also an attraction for Bellavance. “The freedom to express one’s individuality here at Vassar is amazing,” he explained. “I enjoy that about the Liberal Arts programs — you end up meeting so many different people from varying backgrounds that your own horizons become expanded.”
With Vassar’s sports programs on the rise, it was also a tremendous opportunity professionally. “Professionally speaking,” Bellavance wrote, “I chose Vassar because I have the unique opportunity of helping to create, establish and maintain a certain culture in the Sports Medicine department. Along with my colleagues, we’re trying to deliver the best possible care for the prevention, recognition, and treatment of injuries.” Bellavance wants to establish a culture, environment, and sense of pride in taking care of themselves and their bodies. He added, “Fostering an environment where student-athletes know, without pause, that there is an Athletic Trainer who has their optimal health in their best interest is important and isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish. I also enjoy being surrounded by motivated individuals — people who are striving to become their very best and encouraging others to do the same.”
Working with such a motivated group of student-athletes inspires Bellavance every day, which is a major difference between working with high school and college-level athletes. “Most athletes at Vassar have been great to work with thus far. They’re a motivated lot who demonstrate passion about what they do. This doesn’t mean athletics only, I’ve noticed, but also their studies and interests on/off the field/court/pool,” he wrote. “The mindset between the two settings (high school and college) has a noticeable difference, but it’s more to do with knowing what you want out of the athletic/life experience and following a certain path.”
Becoming an Athletic Trainer is something Bellavance has known he has wanted to do for a long time. “I knew I wanted to be involved with athletics since I was in high school. I understood that I probably wasn’t ever going to become a professional athlete so the next best thing for me was combining my passion for the human body with my passion for athletics. It was a wise decision on my part.”