Dawn standing with female USA athlete in arena at 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece

Women in AT: Dawn Gulick's Impact in Athletic Training and Beyond

Introducing Dawn Gulick, PhD, PT, AT, CSCS– our first feature in HawkGrips’ “Women in Athletic Training” series for March, marking both National Athletic Training Month & Women’s History Month. Dawn’s impressive career spans across academia, invention, and elite athletic training. As a professor of physical therapy, HawkGrips Instructor, and a seasoned athletic trainer with experience at six Olympic Summer Games, where she worked closely with Olympians and Paralympians, she stands as an undeniable powerhouse in the sports rehab world. Join us as we delve into her exciting journey in athletic training and beyond. 

Dawn’s path into athletic training began with a childhood immersed in sports and fueled by a natural affinity for science and anatomy. In high school, she excelled as a “math and science kid.”

“It made sense merging my passions of sports and math and science,” Dawn reflected.

Her journey into this world continued with her pursuit of an undergraduate degree in athletic training. Then after gaining some hands-on experience, she advanced her education, earning a graduate degree in physical therapy and ultimately a PhD. Throughout her career, she’s made a significant impact, working with athletes at all levels, from middle school to elite competitors. Having attended every Summer Olympic Games from 1996 to 2016 and from Beijing to Brazil, she’s traveled extensively. And she appreciates the variety in her work, embracing the diversity of sports from cycling to volleyball to ice hockey to wheelchair rugby. Other career achievements include over 100 peer-reviewed publications, four books, two book chapters, and three patents.

Dawn’s introduction to HawkGrips stemmed from her admiration for its Founder, Frank Osborne, and their shared ethos. She was captivated by his tenacity. “Frank will sleep in a box before he lets his business fail… that’s just the kind of guy he is,” she remarked. 

This shared work ethic forged a strong bond between them, leading Dawn to further explore Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) with HawkGrips. After completing a HawkGrips education course, she became an instructor for the company in 2015 and integrated the tools into her teaching at Widener University. Dawn particularly appreciates the HGPro Multi-Tool, calling it a “brilliant idea.” This perspective comes from firsthand experience traveling with athletic teams, where the challenge of carrying a full set of IASTM tools is mitigated by the Multi-Tool’s versatile capabilities.      

Dawn’s experience as a woman in athletic training has been marked by both challenges and progress. Initially, she saw limited opportunities for women in professional sports. However, she finds optimism in the evolving landscape, where doors are gradually opening for women in both women’s and men’s professional sports. 

As a seasoned professional in the field, Dawn offers invaluable advice for upcoming and current athletic trainers. Her main piece of advice is simple: “Show up.”

Dawn emphasizes that athletic training demands more than just punching a clock– it requires dedication, often involving long hours, tournaments, and trips, some unpaid. “It’s hard to stay on and stay sharp, but you will find the will to do so if you’re passionate,” she said. 

Reflecting on her own journey, Dawn underscores the importance of persistence and seizing every opportunity. She believes that success isn’t solely a matter of being in the right place at the right time; rather, it’s the result of consistent effort and a willingness to show up, even when rewards aren’t immediate. Coming from someone who worked six Olympics, this advice carries weight. 

Her final piece of advice is this: “Determine your destiny. Don’t wait for someone to determine it for you.”

We extend our gratitude to Dawn for her partnership and friendship with HawkGrips, and for graciously sharing her inspiring story. Thank you, Dawn! 

Connect with Dawn on LinkedIn


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