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March 2011

Eagles basketball star gains practical experience in PT

After playing basketball for most of her young life, Alyson Young knew she wanted to pursue a career that had at least something to do with the physical aspects of life and the human body.

When she decided on pursuing a career in physical therapy, the Springfield, Mo. native said it didn't take long to figure out Avila University had just the kind of undergraduate curriculum available to prepare her well for when it came time to apply to physical therapy schools around the region.

"Most people's problem is, they don't take the necessary prerequisite classes they need (to apply successfully to a PT school), said Young, who will complete her Bachelor's degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in sport and exercise science in May. "They don't take the classes when they need to take them.

"I got my science classes out of the way early. I got my pre-reqs done. I really don't know what to expect next year. But I think I'll be fine. I don't think I'll be thrown anything I haven't heard before."

Young said she's already been accepted to physical therapy school at Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Mo. and also is hopeful of being accepted at her hometown Missouri State in Springfield. Either program, she said, involves nine semesters of intensive course and practicum work.

Young has been getting a jump on gaining practical experience as a volunteer intern in Avila's kinesiology lab. Twice a week, she spends an hour with Joan Willcox, a woman from a neighborhood just south of the university. Young leads Willcox through a series of stretches and strength drills aimed at increasing bone density, flexibility and muscle strength. She also gets Willcox on the Power Plate, a full-body vibrating machine designed to help with bone density.

"I came here first to use the Power Plate," Willcox said, "and the rest is just a bonus. I feel so much better when I leave here."

The remainder of Young's experiences of a physical nature at Avila have been much more personal. She's been a standout on the Eagles women's basketball team almost from the day she first stepped on campus. A six-foot post player, Young earned Heart of America Athletic Conference freshman of the year honors following her first season. She's led the HAAC in scoring each of the past two seasons, including the 2010-11 season still being played. Feb. 5, in a home game against Culver-Stockton, Young became Avila's all-time leading scorer, surpassing the 1,793 points of Jessica Pankey from 1994-99. After the HAAC post-season tournament, she stood just 18 points shy of the 2,000-point mark.

Most important, Young was instrumental in the Eagles' run to their first conference tournament victory and will lead the team into its first-ever NAIA National Tournament March 16-22 in Jackson, Tenn.

"The season was kind of a roller coaster," Young said, "but to finish it off like that at the right time and go to the national tournament … . I couldn't ask for more than that." AU

Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434