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Care and Compassion Leads Life of Athletic Training for Wheeling Alumni Jess Battilochi

WHEELING, W.Va., April 5 – Care, compassion, and a commitment to serving others are some of the key characteristics of good Athletic Trainers. For Jess Battilochi, these are characteristics that she employs everyday as an Assistant Athletic Trainer with the Wrestling team at Arizona State University. The values she learned while studying Athletic Training at Wheeling University led her across the country as she pursued her passion for taking care of others. 

“I am so happy that I went to Wheeling, and it really shaped me into the person I am today,” said Battilochi. “I came in knowing I wanted to be an athletic trainer and I went through the program, but it’s not four years and you’re out it’s for life. That is something that is so special to me because I still talk to my professors from Wheeling, and it really is a family. That is probably one of the greatest things about Wheeling is that it is a family.” 

Growing up in the local area, Battilochi was a student-athlete at Buckeye Local High School, and it was here that she first learned about the Athletic Training field. During her sophomore year, she suffered an injury and, being that her high school did not have an athletic trainer, she went to work with Trinity Sports Medicine for rehab. She met Athletic Trainer Perry Prichard who showed her the ropes of the Athletic Training field. From that moment on, Battilochi knew it was the field she wanted to go to, and the search began as she looked for a place to pursue her passion. 

“I worked with an Athletic Trainer by the name of Perry Prichard and once I got to know about the profession, I was like ‘this is exactly what I want to do,” said Battilochi. “I always kind of new Wheeling was a good local school, and I knew I wanted to be an athlete. Wheeling offered me Athletic Training and the opportunity to be an athlete, and I knew the first time I visited that this is where I wanted to go because it felt like home right away.” 

During her freshman year, she started as both an Athletic Training student and a Track & Field athlete, but by her sophomore year, Battilochi was all in on her Athletic Training career. As she went through her clinicals and course work, she developed a strong relationship with her professors and the other Athletic Trainers on campus. These relationships still exist and have helped her grow in the field. 

“I knew our professors expected a lot out of us,” said Battilochi. “David Hanna, Dave Dennis, and Kim McMannis were all really good professors, and they expected a lot out of us. Dr. Hanna is still very supportive, and he will reach out as well as Carrie [Hanna], send well wishes and talk about our time at Wheeling so it’s really cool that they are still so supportive.” 

Along with working sports on campus, Battilochi also had off-campus experiences that helped shape her career. When she was a student, Wheeling did not have a football team, so she got the chance to go off campus and work with both the Bethany and West Liberty football teams and help them through their season. This was a big experience for Battilochi as it gave her the chance to acclimate with a new department while continuing her hands-on experience in the field. 

“At the time we did not have football, so we did our rotations off campus, so I got to do a semester at Bethany, and I got to do a semester at West Liberty,” said Battilochi. “It was really beneficial because you had to meet a whole new staff, a whole new athletic department, and new teams so it really helped with the communication aspect of Athletic Training.” 

Battilochi would graduate from Wheeling in 2013 and embarked on her journey in the Athletic Training field with several stops along the way. She stayed local to the area, pursuing a master’s degree at Ohio University and working as an Athletic Trainer at Crooksville High School during that time. She would then become an Athletic Trainer at St. Clairsville High School, before eventually moving to Steubenville, Ohio, to work with Trinity Sports Medicine and Edison High School where she spent several seasons. 

However, those country roads would eventually lead her home to Wheeling University during the Fall of 2017. Wrestling has always been a passion for Battilochi and when she saw the position at Wheeling open to work with both wrestling and rugby, she jumped on the opportunity. For her it was a full circle moment as she got the chance to come back to the place, she called home for four years. 

“It felt like coming home,” said Battilochi. “It was really special to still be able to put the Cardinal on my shirt and be able to work with teams and help them achieve their dreams. You went to a school that shaped you and now you get to be in a position where you are shaping kids to do the same. Not only to be healthy as athletes but to grow as people and know that you get to pour into them those same values that were poured into you and help them graduate and go out into the world.” 

During her time at Wheeling, her love for the sport of wrestling grew and would eventually take her across the globe. In 2018 she volunteered to help the Team USA Women’s Wrestling team on their trip to Beijing China and in 2019 she worked the U15 Pan-American games. These trips would help her make connections through USA Wrestling and would end up taking her nearly 2,000 miles across the country. In November of 2020 as she was hired as an Assistant Athletic Trainer at Arizona State University, working with the Sun Devil’s wrestling team. 

She moved out to Arizona State not knowing anyone and, although she was nervous at first about the transition it was one that would end up taking her to one of the highest stages of collegiate wrestling. 

“I was welcomed into the room from day one as part of the ASU wrestling family,” Battilochi said in an interview with Arizona State’s official website. “We all have the same goals. We want to win a national title and we are all willing to do anything and everything to hit that goal. Anything and everything for these athletes to help them be the best that they can be.” 

This past season, Battilochi and the Sun Devils team were once again at the NCAA National Championships, with that goal of a National Championship. One Sun Devil accomplished that goal as the Sun Devil’s Richard Figueroa won the 125lb weight class. For Battilochi it was a whirlwind of a week, but one that she will never forget. 

“I don’t think I have really had a chance to sit down and really process it yet, but I am proud of all of our guys and getting to be a part of Sun Devil nation,” said Battilochi. “Even though it is a very big school, one of the biggest in the country, our wrestling team, and our program, and our fans give it that small school feel.” 

Through all her travels in the Athletic Training field, Battilochi has always had a special spot in her heart for Wheeling. It is the place that shaped her and allowed her to pursue a career she had been dreaming about since being a sophomore in High School. To future Cardinals and future athletic trainers, she wants to be an inspiration and inspire them to pursue their passions no matter what. 

“[Athletic Training] is something to be passionate about and you give a lot of yourself to other people,” said Battilochi. “I learned a lot from Christy Schoolcraft about having a great work-life balance and I think that is important. Don’t be afraid of being yourself in this roll, there is no wrong way to be.” 

“You won’t regret Wheeling,” added Battilochi. “Wheeling is going to give you a lifelong home, it’s going to give you lifelong support, and it’s going to teach you to be a man or woman to others. In Wheeling’s crest it says Luceat Lux Vestra and I have that tattooed on my body. Letting your light shine is something that Wheeling taught me how to do and you’re never going to regret going to Wheeling. I have been everywhere, and I would never change where I went at Wheeling”