Post-Graduate Mentoring Program

UCF Athletic Training Program

Mentoring is essential to the overall success of newly credentialed healthcare providers. As role models and guides, mentors inspire leadership, professional success, and personal fulfillment.

The UCF Athletic Training Post-Graduate Mentoring Program was developed to encourage rewarding relationships where seasoned athletic training professionals share their knowledge and experience with newly credentialed program graduates. Through one-on-one interactions, new ATs are encouraged and challenged to achieve their highest potential both personally and professionally. The goal is to have a lasting relationship that will result in confident new professionals, the retention of ATs in the profession, and long-term continuation of the mentoring model as current mentees themselves become experienced.

New athletic trainers benefit from the knowledge and advice of a highly experienced colleague, and mentors benefit from exposure to fresh perspectives and the satisfaction of giving back to the profession.

The mentoring program would not be possible without our alumni and preceptors. Their dedication to our program and the athletic training profession are unequaled, and we thank them for their continuous support.

Meet our first cohort of mentors!

Headshot of Marisa Brunett

Marisa Brunett, MS, LAT, ATC, CKTP
Employer: NATA Vice President and District IX Director, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Advisory Board Member; Guest Speaker
Email: [email protected]
Years of experience: > 32+
Why I am a Mentor:
I have always valued the mentors that have helped encourage and guide me as a student and throughout my professional career. I decided early on that I wanted to be there to provide mentorship for others, to help guide, listen, encourage, support, share my experiences and hopefully inspire them to become a volunteer in our professional associations.

My mentors have helped me to develop in many areas of my career such as leadership & administrative development, specific clinical skills, patient care, developing my network, life balance and in my professional association volunteer service work, which has been the most rewarding.

My mentors have tremendously enhanced my professional and personal growth and development throughout my career with some of them becoming very valued, dear friends.

I value my relationships with my mentors, continuing to go to them for guidance and support, and I am passionate about doing the same for students, young professionals and colleagues alike.

Headshot of Tom Coupart

Tom Coupart, LAT, ATC
Employer: CORA Physical Therapy, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position: Regional Sports Medicine Coordinator
Years of experience: >  10
Why I am a Mentor:
Coming into a career that’s as diverse and ever changing as Athletic Training and Sports Medicine, leaves a world of questions and gray areas for a new student/professional.  I firmly believe that a mentor can help settle the storm and become a resource for students on their path to certification.  I think this is even more important now as the program has evolved from a BS program to an MS program.  We now have professionals from other fields coming into ATR who are not as familiar with policies and protocol.  Having a mentor allows a new AT student the opportunity to ask questions to someone that has been there and has the experience that they’ve yet to come across.  In addition, everyone has learned similar things but from different areas. Some techniques are different, and approaches or mindsets vary. It can allow this individual to gain new insight and abilities that otherwise would not be possible.  It also helps me reinforce my knowledge and ability help to better guide one’s self in this profession that’s always changing.  My career, having included both PRN and FT ATCs duties, as well as now being an administrator / manager of a large SMED division, will provide different perspectives as well to these students that maybe want to look beyond sport coverage and rehabilitation.  I can provide both the practicing ATC in second and university settings experience and guidance as well as a business minds idea of what makes money and meets moral and ethical guidelines while still providing a great service to athletes.

Jennifer Cuchna Profile Picture

Jennifer Cuchna, PhD, MBA, MEd, LAT, ATC
Employer: Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2003
Email: [email protected]
Position: Assistant Professor of Athletic Training, Clinical Education Coordinator
Years of experience: > 15
Why I am a Mentor:
I feel having a mentor early on and throughout your professional career is a vital component for success.  Some settings have mentorship components that transpire in an organic way just through mere interaction and proximity. However, this is not always the case.  I feel having a mentor available and willing to interact with you as you begin your journey that is not necessarily associated with your current work setting can provide a unique perspective when dealing with trials and tribulations that might be encountered in the transition into being an autonomous practitioner.  Even if you are not yet practicing and are just in the process of finding where you want to be, a mentor can be there to listen and act as a sounding board to help you process and figure things out.

Headshot of Lisa DiBenedetto

Lisa DiBenedetto, MEd, LAT, ATC
Employer: University of North Florida
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2010
Email: [email protected]
Position: Assistant Athletic Trainer
Years of Experience: >10
Why I am a Mentor:
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to learn from a variety of athletic trainers, healthcare professionals, and coaches that helped shape my professional life. In athletic training, like all healthcare professions, information is constantly evolving and no one person has all the answers. Therefore it is crucial to be a life-long learner and develop relationships with other professionals to expand our knowledge and better serve our patients and communities. UCF has obviously played a huge role in my life and I would love the opportunity to give back to my fellow Knights as a mentor. I hope my background in both collegiate and pediatric settings could help a wide variety of athletic trainers interested in different areas of focus.

Headshot of Tommy Ferguson

Tommy Ferguson, LAT, ATC
Employer: PT Solutions, Asheville, NC
Valley Springs Middle School
Affiliation to UCF: 2014 Graduate
Email: [email protected]
Years of experience: 7+
Why I am a Mentor:
It can most certainly be a struggle, especially early on in your athletic training career, to navigate the job market and any healthcare system. While I believe UCF prepares athletic trainers for the real world, growth is a never-ending journey. I want to be a mentor because I know I am in the unique position of having a variety of experience in every major athletic training setting, and I wanted to pay it forward to the program, offer guidance, and be a resource to the new athletic trainers as they find their footing professionally.

Headshot of Mary Vander Heiden

Mary Vander Heiden, MA, LAT, ATC
Employer: University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: UCF Athletic sports medicine team; Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position: Director of Sports Medicine/Head Football Athletic Trainer
Years of Experience: > 20+
Why I am a Mentor:
I want to mentor because I have always stressed the importance of staying in touch with preceptors.  This industry is based off of relationships and the importance of them can’t be stressed enough.  Not only will keeping in touch assist with references for positions and maintain those references in a positive way, but it will also allow a sounding board when issues arise or advice is needed as it relates to policy and procedure.

Headshot of Elaine Judy

Elaine Judy, LAT, ATC
Employer: Winter Park High School, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position: Head Athletic Trainer
Years of experience: > 26
Why I am a Mentor:
Mentors are a great resource. We can be a safe space to ask questions and help provide guidance so new graduates can make the best choices possible. With my experience in secondary school athletic training, I can provide needed guidance for those seeking a career in this setting. Mentoring also benefits me as I can keep a pulse on up and coming athletic trainers in our profession.

Headshot of Stephanie Lennon

Stephanie Lennon, MS, LAT, ATC
Employer: Oak Ridge High School, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position: Head Athletic Trainer
Years of experience: > 30+
Why I am a Mentor:
I think mentors are extremely important for the integrity of our profession and the longevity of those who practice it.   Strong mentor relationships developed while the AT is still a student usually continue as the student begins their career.    Most universities provide quality internship experiences to help young professionals succeed as they enter the work force, but there is no way even the best of internships can prepare an entry-level AT for all of the challenges and problems that might arise.  The mentor can help make the transition from student to young professional smoother by helping them navigate the challenges of a new position.  We all feel more confident when we know there is someone behind us to help and encourage us.  In addition, I have found that as a mentor I benefit as well because students keep me on my toes and force me to stay on top of what is happening in our profession.

Headshot of Danielle L. Platt

Danielle L. Platt, DAT, LAT, ATC
Employer: Troy University, Troy, AL
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2010
Email: [email protected]
Position: Director, Athletic Training Program
Years of experience: > 9+
Why I am a Mentor:
In the early part of my career I quickly learned the need for mentorship and the effects not having a mentor could play on my passion for this profession. I have carried this thought process of finding those that could mentor me in new roles that I have acquired throughout the years and have seen the exponential benefits that has provided me. Being involved in this UCF Alumni Mentorship Program will allow me to pay it forward and hopefully provide assistance to those advancing in their careers, just as my mentors have done for me.

Headshot of Scott Schenker

Scott Schenker, MS, LAT, ATC, CES
Employer: Lake Highland Preparatory School, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position:   Head Athletic Trainer/Varsity Softball Coach
Years of experience: > 14
Why I am a Mentor:
I would love to be a mentor as I have had many differing experiences that have shaped my philosophy on Athletic Training and being a great clinician.  I strive to share all of these experiences and my own philosophy with students to watch them learn and grow while teaching them and working with them.

“Make every obstacle an opportunity.”

Headshot of Benjamin Schuler

Benjamin Schuler, MS, LAT, ATC
Employer: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2009
Email: [email protected]
Position:   Associate Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer
Years of experience: > 10
Why I am a Mentor:
I’m volunteering to be a mentor because I want to be a resource for others. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have dedicated, intelligent and supportive athletic trainers around me and this is my opportunity to return the favor.

Headshot of Stephanie M. Singe

Stephanie M. Singe, PhD, ATC
Employer: University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Position: Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Director, Entry-Level Athletic Training Education
Affiliation to UCF: Research collaborator
Years of experience: > 15
Email: [email protected]
Why I am a Mentor:
I want to be a mentor because I find it rewarding. I often learn from my mentee, and feel grateful when I can share my experiences or story with someone and they can learn from it. I am someone who values mentorship, and have greatly benefited from the mentorship I have received in my career.

Headshot of Ian Stites

Ian Stites, BS, ATC
Employer: Amazon, Inc., Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position: Injury Prevention Specialist
Years of experience: > 10
Why I am a Mentor:
I want to be a mentor because I believe in investing in the future of our wonderful profession though real life engagement with the next generation of ATs. I have had some amazing mentors in my life, both in and outside of athletic training. I want to pay that love forward.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

Headshot of Jillian Sutton

Jillian Sutton, MS, LAT, ATC
 Windermere High School, Orlando, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2015, Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Years of experience: 7
Why I am a Mentor:
I believe the more athletic trainers you can collaborate with and learn from allow you to see a more well- rounded look at the profession. Each athletic trainer branches off from their foundational education and develops from their experiences, people they meet, and personal interests and goals. This can be an overwhelming journey and it is comforting to have a mentor to reach out for reassurance, second opinion, advice, or just a listening ear. I can be that.

“Be the person you needed when you were younger.”

Headshot of Ken Takenaka

Ken Takenaka, MEd, ATC, OTC
Employer: Orthopedic and Fracture Specialists, Portland, OR
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2008; Interim Clinical Coordinator
Email: [email protected]
Athletic Training Supervisor/ATC Residence Program Director, Lead Forms Developer
Years of experience: > 11
Why I am a Mentor:
When I became an athletic trainer, I never could have anticipated the path my career has taken. I always knew that I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know that it would expand to helping people outside of a medical capacity. I have a passion for teaching and want to use my personal experiences to help others unlock their full potential. Not only do I want people to increase their knowledge, but I want to encourage people to better their understanding of themselves, gain empathy, and to understand how to become leaders within their fields. When you are truly able to understand yourself and those around you as people, it is shocking to see how differently you view the world around you. Being a mentor requires me to listen, understand, analyze, empathize, and then give my feedback or recommendation. I want to guide people to a broader understanding of themselves and how to become a leader.

Headshot of Jennefer Torres

Jennefer Torres, MBA, LAT, ATC
Employer: Florida Marlins
Affiliation to UCF: Alumna
Email: [email protected]
Why I am a Mentor:
I am interested in mentoring to provide guidance for recent athletic training graduates and be a resource for questions to improve professional development. Athletic training is an ever-evolving industry, and it is one where you learn the most skills and information from your peers and those around you. I believe it is important for the athletic trainer to build confidence in their capabilities and skill sets and think outside the box. It is essential to embrace strengths in order to build a foundation and philosophy to improve patient outcomes. There will be some obstacles along the way, but with the proper foundation and goals set in place, the opportunities are endless no matter the industry.

Headshot of Phillip Worts

Phillip Worts, PhD, LAT, ATC, CSCS, CES
Employer: Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic, Tallahassee, FL
Affiliation to UCF: Class of 2009; Program Preceptor
Email: [email protected]
Position:   Clinical Research Director
Years of experience: > 10
Why I am a Mentor:
I want to be a mentor because I believe it is important for every new athletic trainer to have a resource when dealing with challenges and opportunities at work.

**This program is only available to graduates of the UCF Athletic Training Program. If you have any questions about the Master of Athletic Training Program, the Post-Graduate Mentoring Program, or are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact us at [email protected].

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