This week’s Warrior Wednesday story is on athletic trainer Mark Haines. Haines has been working with San Diego State for over 20 years, and is a huge part to the success of SDSU athletics. His friendly personality is contagious throughout the athletic center, and he is a favorite amongst men and women from all sports.
Haines grew up in East Lansing, Mich., near the campus of Michigan State. After high school, he attended Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colo. After completing general education courses, Haines was unsure of what the next chapter of his life would consist of.
One day while walking down a hallway on campus, he came across a flyer that said there was a need for athletic trainers. Intrigued by the opportunity, Haines poked his head in the door and asked for more information. He was a big fan of sports – he played several in high school – and he felt that it would be a fun thing to try.
After graduating, Haines was once again unsure of what was next for him. While working at a high school sporting event one day, he bumped into a trainer who attended Michigan State for its athletic training graduate program.
After discovering that his hometown school had the graduate program he was looking for, Haines made a call and sent in his application to become a graduate assistant. Although he was the last one to turn in his application, Haines was fortunate to receive the opportunity he was looking for.
“I called pretty late but the trainer told me to give it a shot,” Haines said. “I got lucky because a few weeks later, the person who was supposed to be the graduate assistant backed out last minute, and the trainer called me first. My application was the last one submitted, and he picked the one off the top of pile.”
Following his time at Michigan State, Haines began looking for a full-time job as an athletic trainer. He had applied for several jobs and was nearly hired at the University of Minnesota, but things did not work out. Soon after, Haines attended a small party with several other athletic trainers in the area, and he bumped into a girl who told him he should apply for a job at San Diego State.
“I bumped into a girl who was an incoming graduate assistant from San Diego, and she told me that San Diego State had a position open,” Haines said. “They had recently fired someone and needed to hire someone immediately. I got lucky that I called at the right time.”
After working primarily with the basketball team for over a decade, Haines recently transitioned to working with football. Although it’s a different sport, it hasn’t changed how he approaches his job.
“I don’t prefer one over the other, I just like working with the student-athletes,” Haines said. “I like working with young people. They are highly motivated, excited, and they have great stories. It’s just nice to be a part of that.”
Although it was a long journey that led him to San Diego State, it appears Haines has found his niche. He enjoys his job, and he feels that becoming an athletic trainer was meant to be for him.
“I think a lot of people talk about their purpose in life, and for me I guess this is my purpose,” Haines said. “There are a lot of people who have done things for me that I will never see again, and I will never be able to say thank you. I just want to pay it forward and help out these kids as much as possible.
“I’d love to tell you I was smarter than everyone else, but honestly I just got lucky. For some unknown reason I kept falling into these opportunities, and I guess that’s just life.”
Haines often calls himself lucky when he talks about his past, but he’s not the only lucky one. Every athlete at San Diego State is lucky to have Mark Haines as their athletic trainer.