Athletic Staff Spotlight: Haylee Black


Photo by: Ainara Eizaguirre Irastorza

Assistant athletic trainer, Haylee Black, thrives in the grind of college athletics.

Haylee Black discovered her dream of helping athletes early in her educational experience and continues to pursue it in her second semester as an assistant athletic trainer at FMU. 

“I was in IB Biology and that was not a good fit for me, so I switched into the sports med class,” Black said. “With that, I liked the anatomy aspect of it and learning about the body and how the body is like a puzzle when it comes to anything being wrong with it. We were required to work one football game and I fell in love with it.” 

Ever since that high school experience, Black started her path towards athletic training. She worked with the football team for her school during her junior and senior years and learned the basics. 

She had been a multi-sport athlete with softball, basketball and a bit of volleyball, but the athletic training experience with the football team conflicted with some of the schedules. To fit in some sort of sport, Black started archery. She competed through middle school and high school in the off-season but had to stop in college with her busy schedule.

After high school, she went to Winthrop for her undergraduate degree and was admitted into the athletic training program her sophomore year of school. After undergrad, Black was looking for a graduate assistant position and found one through Young Harris College in Georgia. While she was a GA, she earned her master’s degree in Kinesiology from North Georgia University. 

“I like college athletics and the atmosphere of it,” Black said. “I’m closer to age with the kids and they can relate to me much more than I could to a high schooler; you’re here to compete and be a part of a team; we have a goal and a championship in mind.”

At the time, Young Harris College was in the Peach Belt Conference—the same conference as FMU. A native of Myrtle Beach, SC, Black was ready to move closer to home for her first job out of graduate school.

“My head athletic trainer at Young Harris knew a Mcleod employee, one of the coordinators here, and she was hiring for the FMU position,” Black said. “Within two weeks I was offered the job here.”

Black takes care of women’s soccer, women’s basketball and she is on call for cheer. She also works the majority of the tennis matches. Though it is a busy job, she claims to be acclimating well to the environment.

“It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been good,” Black said. “I love my kids and love my coaches—couldn’t ask for better coaches. They’re adjusting with me, adjusting to the new environment, just dealing with the craziness of COVID on top of it all.”

Black has the unique experience of performing her job almost exclusively during COVID. 

“I haven’t had a non-COVID experience,” Black said. “I had one full Fall season without COVID, from then it’s always been COVID.”

Despite the new normal, Black claims to love the dynamic aspect of college athletics. COVID or no COVID, the hectic schedules of college sports teams are constant. 

“That’s one thing I like about the college aspect—I could be working a practice until 6:30 or 7 p.m. but have to get up at 5 a.m. Yes, it’s going to be a terrible wakeup, but it’s the ever-changing-ness of it I like; and I like to travel,” Black said.

However, when it is time to settle down and have a family—something far, far down the road according to Black—Black could see herself transitioning to high school athletic training. She believes that adjusting to a steadier schedule to spend time with the future family would not be a sacrifice so much as a choice to prioritize her loved ones. For now, though, she prioritizes her job (and maybe archery). 

You can see Black courtside during women’s basketball games and on the courts for tennis matches. If she is not in the gym, she is spending time in the athletic training room in the Smith University Center rehabilitating and treating all of the athletes.