Background Image - Foust Building

EdD in Kinesiology Offers Curriculum and Connection for NBA Team Athletic Trainer

November 10, 2017 by Karen Grossman |



Casey Smith wanted a doctoral program that fit the demands of his job as head athletic trainer for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. He desired the academic rigor that would benefit his current role and provide future opportunities, as well as a distance program he could complete on the road with his team.

The online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Kinesiology program at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro checked all those boxes for him, he says. He began the program this fall.

“Other programs I looked at did not offer the depth of curriculum,” he says. “I did not just want to receive a terminal degree, I wanted to improve as a professional.”

Feeling connected in distance learning

The fully online, interdisciplinary EdD program is for practicing professionals with three or more years of experience in kinesiology or related fields. This professional degree focuses on scholarship and professional practice in leadership, advocacy, and teaching.

Smith was surprised at how quickly his cohort has bonded. With regular communication, support, and feedback, they are getting to know each other more than he expected, adding value to the program.

“I honestly expected a distance education program to feel rather non-personal, but I have experienced just the opposite,” he says.

Despite regular travel with his team, he has found opportunities to meet up with the other students at games in cities where his classmates live.

Knowledge for a changing job field

Because kinesiology includes sport science, technology, and statistical analysis, in addition to athletic training, Smith felt the program was a good fit for professional sports.

He says his field has changed drastically in the past 15 years. “A person in my role deals with injury recognition, prevention, and rehabilitation, but must be versed across disciplines relating to health and wellness, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and nutrition,” he says.

On game days, Smith and his team rely on that knowledge to work with players’ needs in preparation and recovery nutrition, rehabilitation, general conditioning work, tissue and joint mobilization, as well as responding to in-game injuries.

Coursework makes an immediate impact

Smith is already able to apply what he’s learning in the EdD program to make an impact on his daily duties, using learning modules in program analysis, strengths and weaknesses within an organization, and leadership.

“I am responsible for disseminating a vast amount of information daily, and coursework in teaching and pedagogy and various types of scholarship help me do my job more effectively,” he says.

Looking ahead at effective leadership

The increased knowledge base will increase Smith’s ability to communicate that information more appropriately, making him a more effective leader, teacher, and administrator, he says.

“My EdD in Kinesiology will allow me to administrate and design my department to better serve the varying areas within medicine, fitness, sport science, and kinesiology that I deal with daily,” he says.

Find out more

Are you a kinesiology professional interested in furthering your career? Learn more about UNCG’s EdD in Kinesiology program.

Download Guide to Online Programs