An ankle injury during his senior year at Vance High School sidelined Markel Cureton from the game he loved.
He wasn’t happy about missing practice, but thinking back, he’s grateful because the time he spent with the team’s athletic trainer would ultimately spark his interest in sports medicine.
“He not only helped me get back on the football field, he inspired me to want to learn more about the body, preventive measures and treatment.
“From that day on I wanted to become an athletic trainer.”
The Charlotte native is pursuing his dream at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. As a junior, he is excelling in the classroom. He is a regular on the academic honor roll and active in the Athletic Training Student Association.
His hard work and determination earned him statewide recognition at the North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association’s annual meeting March 4-5 in Wrightsville Beach.
At the meeting, he was presented with NACTA’s 2018 Hall of Fame Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
“I was ecstatic when I found out. I kind of wanted to cry because of all the work from the years prior had paid off. This scholarship helped lift a heavy financial burden for me and my mom. It means a lot.”
A first generation student from a single-family home, Cureton said the $1,500 award will help tremendously.
Susan Edkins, director of the Athletic Training program, described Cureton as one of the hardest working students she has encountered in her 27 years at UNCP.
“He studies between classes and constantly works on making his clinical skills better,” she said. “He is actively engaged in both the clinical aspect of his education and in the classroom.”
Cureton always strives for high grades, in fact, Edkins said his GPA in his athletic training courses is among the highest in program history.
While in Wrightsville Beach, Cureton and three other future athletic trainers from UNCP – Brenden Sherrill, Roelvis Vargas and Rebecca Laverick – participated in a clinical lecture and a trivial quiz bowl. They also got the opportunity to meet Kevin King, the assistant athletic trainer for the Carolina Panthers.
“It was such an honor to talk with him, learn from his experience on the field and to be able to build a relationship with him,” Cureton said.
Cureton said he would love to follow King’s path to the NFL and one day be on the sideline with the New England Patriots.
“I have always been interested in sports. I love to watch and analyze the game whether it is football, baseball or basketball. And I have a passion for helping others when they are down mentally or physically. As an athletic trainer, I will be able to build a relationship with athletes and teach them the proper way to train and prevent injuries.”