Drake University’s fifth cohort of students in the Masters of Athletic Training (MAT) program were formally welcomed into the profession during the Blue Coat Ceremony on Sept. 22, 2023, in the Shivers Courtside Club of the Knapp Center. First-year MAT students Aziz Jdai, Kaylee Larson, Sami Miller, Tyler Otto, Mac Pursell, Aayushi Sarkar, Darinka Stepan, and Jeremy Villalobos were each presented with their blue coat and name tag during the ceremony. Together, they recited the pledge of professionalism before their families, friends, and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) faculty and staff. 

First-year students in Drake University Master of Athletic Training (MAT) are pictured in a group wearing their sporty, blue wind breakers at the 2023 Blue Coat Ceremony, a rite of passage where the students are officially welcomed into the program.
Front row, left to right: Mac Pursell, Darinka Stepan, Aayushi Sarkar, Sami Miller
Back row, left to right: Tyler Otto, Aziz Jdai, Kaylee Larson, Jeremy Villalobos

Similar to the College’s White Coat Ceremonies that began in 1998, the Blue Coat Ceremony serves as a symbolic rite of passage. Through the simple gesture of slipping a blue coat over their shoulders, this ceremony is a meaningful celebration as the students begin the next phase of their professional development – clinical rotations. The blue coat, a sporty windbreaker, was chosen due to its appropriateness for the athletic training profession.   

Chuck Phillips, CPHS Assistant Dean for Assessment and Academic Affairs, and Delaney Taylor, second-year MAT student and 2023 Emerging Clinician Awardee, provided opening and congratulatory remarks. Michael Nelson, CPHS Dean of Student Affairs, introduced the students as Nate Newman, MAT Program Director, and Sean Rogers, Assistant Professor, presented the students with their blue coats. Frankie Porter, an alum of the inaugural MAT Class of 2021 and licensed athletic trainer, led the students in their pledge of professionalism. 

“The Blue Coat Ceremony was a wonderful event for our students. They truly understood the honor it is to be welcomed into a healthcare profession and it was great to see their excitement as they walked across the stage,” said Nate Newman, MAT program director. “I look forward to seeing each student’s success as they begin their clinical experiences and continue through the MAT program.” 

The academic performance and demographics of this class reflect the intent of Drake to maintain its high academic standards for admitted students, recruit a diverse cohort of students, and attract students from a wide range of geographic locations. The MAT Class of 2025 begins their professional journey with a solid academic foundation with a pre-professional average GPA of 3.33 on a 4.0 scale. In addition to their academic commitments, seventy-five percent of the cohort are dedicated student-athletes. Over thirty percent of the cohort identifies as students of color and fifty percent identify as female. The class is also geographically diverse with students coming from Kansas, Minnesota, California, and internationally, joining students from Iowa.