Athletic Trainer Spotlight: John McKinley

Outreach Program

Athletic Training Outreach

UW Health Sports Medicine athletic trainers provide injury evaluations, rehabilitation, education, wound care and emergency injury care for active individuals who have sustained injuries.


Meet John McKinley


A golf injury spurred John McKinley's interest in athletic training as a profession.John McKinley manages UW Health's team of athletic trainers, and he shared some information about his athletic history and how he became an athletic trainer.


Where did you go to school?


I attended Madison Edgewood High School, UW-La Crosse for undergraduate work, and UW-Madison for my graduate degree.


Did you play a sport?


In high school I played football and some baseball. In college I could not participate in athletics because of my work as a student learner in the athletic training room, working with the athletes.


Tell us a quick story about how you chose athletic training as your profession.


During my junior year of high school I was golfing when I swung the club and felt a snap, crack and pop in my right knee. My knee collapsed under me. I subsequently discovered that I had torn some of the cartilage in my knee. It was during the rehabilitation process following surgery on my knee that I decided working in health care with athletes was what I wanted to. So, an odd injury while golfing propelled me into health care.


Tell us about your professional experiences working as an athletic trainer.


I have been working as an athletic trainer for 18 years. After finishing my undergraduate work at UW-La Crosse, I worked at Luther College for a year before coming back to Madison to do my graduate work at UW-Madison. I started working at UW Health Sports Medicine in 1999 and in that time I have worked with the Madison Mad Dogs (an indoor football team) for one year, DeForest High School for two years, and Madison Memorial High School for 12 years. I also have been a medical coordinator for the Madison Marathon, the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games, and a number of charitable and competitive running, cycling, and track events that the UW Health Sports Medicine Clinic sponsors. Further, our program works with numerous youth, high school, college and semi-professional teams that have allowed both myself and my fellow UW Health Sports Medicine athletic trainers numerous opportunities to work with a variety of athletes and sports.


What do you enjoy most about your job?


The people. The fantastic parents, athletes, coaches, administrators, and fellow health care providers that I have had the pleasure to work with make this job tremendously rewarding. The sports medicine community and the athletics community have a drive to improve the situation for each other and to truly develop athletes as complete people.