Dustin McNeely shipped off his application for the Jack Cramer Scholarship back in December and while it hung in the back of his mind, time had moved his thoughts on from the National Athletic Training Association’s prestigious scholarship.
Then in March, he got a text from a former athletic training supervisor who had sponsored his entry: “You owe me sir.” McNeely won the Jack Cramer Scholarship, the first student from the state of South Carolina to do so. He talked to The Herald’s Bret McCormick on Tuesday morning about his big news.
When did you find out and what was your reaction when you found out you had won?
I found out on Wednesday, March 16. I was kind of shocked. I didn’t really believe it because it’s one of those big national things. I was like, “are you serious? Is this some kind of April Fools’ joke?” But I’ve come to decide that it is real, yes.
“You owe me,” that’s kind of an ominous text message...
I know. I was pretty confused.
So what does the scholarship mean? What did you get other than the prestige?
They award me with $2,000, and they also pay for my flight - and one parent - to Baltimore in the summer to go to the NATA symposium. There, I will accept the award and talk with some of the executives from Cramer’s products and I will be able to sign up for classes there to learn.
How long have you been involved with athletic training?
Since my freshman year.
What was your introduction to it?
When I was a little kid, I was sitting on the sidelines of my brother’s peewee football game, one of the players went down and had to be taken to the hospital. That’s when I realized I couldn’t do anything for him and I wanted to be able to do something for him.
Then I got here (York Comprehensive), and I talked with my assistant principal, Mr. (Christopher) Black, and he said “if you want to do something medical you can go to the athletic training room. So I went to the athletic training room and talked to Doc (York Comprehensive head athletic trainer Mike Smith) and he knew me and knew my family and he let me into the program as a freshman. He had never done that before.
Do you have a favorite sport to work?
This is gonna sound bad, but football or wrestling because that’s when stuff happens and it kind of gives me something to do on the sidelines.
Sports where you’re going to be needed...
What are your plans after high school?
I have been accepted to Western Carolina University and that’s where I’ll be attending in the fall to major in athletic training and minor in nursing.
What would be a dream job after you graduated from college, were certified as an athletic trainer and ready to be an adult?
I’m realizing I’m gonna have to start low and work my way up so I’ll probably start somewhere in a high school setting. But I would really want to go to the NFL or a professional team somewhere. I think that would be cool for a couple of years but I think a high school would be the most beneficial part for me.
Maybe Mr. Smith is a setting up a succession plan so you can follow him at York?
Right. He was actually at App State so we’re rivals now. He tried to get me to go to App State, but I was like, “nah, I’m good...”