Many people enjoy watching professional wrestling on television for the entertainment value, but few realize that the men and women who commit their lives to the sport obtain real injuries in the process of entertaining. Larry Heck, a 1992 Waynesburg University graduate, addresses those injuries off camera.
For 12 years, he has traveled everywhere from Amsterdam to Afghanistan with the team of entertainers and has bandaged, stretched and rehabilitated hundreds of professional athletes. His work has built friendships with television superstars and has positioned Heck for a prosperous, fulfilling life doing what he loves.
“It's true what they say, ‘Find a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life,'” Heck said. “If that is the case I haven't gone to work in 12 years.”
When Heck visited his alma mater to speak to an athletic training class in March, he explained to students that his success has come as a result of hard work, humility and an attitude of continuous learning.
“I was in the very first class of athletic training at Waynesburg,” Heck said. “We were expected to come in and get our hands dirty from the very beginning.”
After graduating, Heck continued to “get his hands dirty” by taking every opportunity to learn from athletic trainers across the nation. He moved to Texas to take his athletic training licensure exam and volunteered at a local health sciences facility during the process so that he could continue networking and gaining experience. Connections from his volunteer work led him to accept a position within minor league baseball, then, minor league hockey.
Heck returned to the United States a few years later to coordinate outreach efforts about athletic training and health management for Health South, one of the nation's largest healthcare providers specializing in rehabilitation.
Twelve years ago, he received a call from the WWE and accepted a position training some of the world's best known entertainment athletes.
Now a veteran athletic trainer, Heck still remembers sitting in classes at Waynesburg University and wondering how he could build a successful career. When speaking to current students, he says that he wouldn't be where he is today without networking and continuously building his skill set.
Heck said he graduated with an amount of athletic training knowledge and skills that undergraduates at other Universities may never experience.
“One of the benefits of Waynesburg is the fact that it's not a large University; my biggest class was 24 students,” Heck said. “The athletic training program really helped me because I was able to start working immediately. In any field of athletic training, the more clinical knowledge and skills you have, the better it will help you to prepare for the future.”