By Shannon Traphagen

“To achieve dreams, one must move forward in pursuing them.”

That is the motto at Daemen College, a private, nonsectarian college in Amherst, New York. Daemen encourages its students to be creative, innovative, and ethically-minded leaders for an ever-changing, diverse, and interconnected world. Part of that innovation and interconnectedness includes new additions to its health and human services programming. Professions in athletic training, sports, and physical therapy are increasing in demand, and Daemen has answered the call.

Tony Surace, Clinical Education Coordinator and Associate Professor of Athletic Training at Daemen, says, “There’s a big shift in the way people view the field of athletic training. It’s important that potential students know that an athletic training or sports therapy degree isn’t just about sports. It’s about all physical activity for all people.”

What makes Daemen’s programming unique is not only their student-to-faculty ratio, but also their clinical sites. “We have students going into performing arts settings, military and police academies, physicians’ offices, hospitals, high schools, and sports fields,” said Surace. Daemen’s master’s degree in athletic training (MSAT) is a two-year program that now includes a concussion and brain injury course. “I want our student trainers to think outside the box. We have athletic trainers that now work with the Rockettes in NYC,” he says.

Dr. Sue Falsone can’t say enough about the sports therapy programs offered at Daemen. A Buffalo native and former undergraduate student at Daemen, Dr. Falsone owns Structure & Function Education, an Arizona-based company where health professionals master the art of dry needling. Dr. Falsone also dedicates her time helping to bridge the gap from rehabilitation to performance. A board-certified sports physical therapy clinical therapist, certified athletic trainer, certified spine orthopedic manual therapist, and certified strength and conditioning specialist, Dr. Falsone spent 13 years as the Director of Athlete’s Performance for the L.A. Dodgers baseball team, where she was the first female athletic trainer.

“I never experienced gender barriers going into this field,” said Dr. Falsone. “While the rest of the nation made a big deal about a female athletic trainer in professional baseball, it never registered with me. I credit the strong role models I had at Daemen and Chapel Hill. They taught me to never let gender be a barrier.”

Dr. Falsone notes that the physical therapy and athletic training degrees at Daemen are more closely tied together than they were 20 years ago. Surace could not agree more, saying, “It’s amazing to see students flourish in these programs, and realize that there is so much more they can do with these degrees than they thought possible.” He is also proud of the 100 percent pass rate at Daemen for the athletic training exams, and says, “We are excited to look to the future of these programs.”

Learn more about Daemen College’s health and human services programs at or on Facebook @daemencollege.