Editors Note: Throughout the year, the UNC Asheville Athletics Communciations Office will be profiling former Bulldog student-athletes and what they are doing now. If you know of a former student-athlete you would like to be profiled, please email Mike Gore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two different times in her life, Dr. Pam Allen has had to decide where to live. In each case, she chose Asheville and each time she's glad she did.
Pam was a member of the UNC Asheville women's soccer team from 1993 through 1996. She graduated in 1997 with a degree in Biology.
She grew up in the small town of Manchester, Vermont where she was a standout soccer player. When it came down to deciding where to go, Pam thought she had only two choices.
"I was thinking of going to either the University of Vermont or Hobart," explained Allen recently. "But I wasn't really sold on either one of them.
"I had lived in Manchester my whole life and had gone to school with my classmates from pre-school right through high school," commented Allen. "All of them were good people but I wanted a change. Going to Vermont wouldn't have given me that kind of change.
"Hobart was super expensive," added Allen. "It's an excellent academic school but its tuition was just out of sight.
"So, I looked in a book on schools throughout the country and decided on either UNC Asheville or UNC Charlotte," said Allen. "After doing some more research, I chose UNC Asheville. I liked the fact it was a small school and was so good academically."
She was only planning to stay a semester or two.
"I wasn't planning to stay long," added Allen. "I just wanted to get a semester or two in before transferring to a bigger school like UNC Charlotte or Chapel Hill."
However, that plan was changed once she got to Asheville.
"Once I got here, I just fell in love with the school and the area," admitted Allen. "I was getting such a great education. You weren't a number here."
And she also decided to play soccer.
"I hadn't planned to play soccer but my first roommates were athletes and soccer players, so I decided to go out for the team," she said.
Allen joined the women's soccer program in its infancy. The 1993 season, when Pam was a freshman, was just the second year the Bulldogs had a program.
In 1994, the team had a new coach in Michele Cornish and Asheville showed dramatic improvement. The following season with some talented freshman in the mix, the Bulldogs had the greatest season in program history. Asheville went 16-5 and captured the Big South Conference championship with a 1-0 upset victory at UNC Greensboro.
"When I first started playing, we had some real talented players that got there when I did with Jill Young, Kristi Cummings, Lynae King and Jodi Winterton," explained Allen. "Michele (Cornish) did a great job getting us all on the same page when we were sophomores. In 1995, she brought in some great players from Colorado and everything came together."
The Bulldogs came together in 1995 and 1996. In 1996, Asheville advanced to the Big South title game against Greensboro before falling in a shoot-out. The Bulldogs still had a great season as they knocked off nationally-ranked Wake Forest, 2-0 at Greenwood Field.
Pam had a dual role with the program. She not only served as a player but at times as a trainer, as well.
"I guess I got my start in trauma care with our soccer team," said a smiling Allen when thinking about those days. "I did a little of everything. I pulled out stitches, worked on Jill's (Jill Young) shoulder during a match and taped ankles.
"It was my first taste of taking care of people and I found that I really enjoyed it," added Allen.
And those teammates she took care of have become life-long friends.
"My teammates have become life-long friends," stated Allen. "We all keep in touch and let everyone know how we're doing."
Coach Cornish remembers, "Dr. Allen" fondly.
"Pam worked as hard as she possibly could during training and did so without complaint. She made her teammates better," said Cornish. "Pam served up a mean cross as a wide midfielder. I don't recall too many shots going wide or high of the goal when she had a chance to shoot. I was a very young coach when Pam played for me, and I remember those years very clearly. She made me a better person. I love the fact that I get to refer to her as "Dr. Pam" now and that she still calls me "Coach." She is one of my all-time favorite players."
After graduating with honors from UNC Asheville in 1997, she took a year off a school before going to medical school at UNC Chapel Hill, not sure what kind of doctor she wanted to become.
"I loved medicine and science and knew I wanted to be involved with both but wasn't sure which way to go," commented Allen. "I kept an open mind during my first two years and tried to find out what would excite me."
She eventually found out that she wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.
"I'm a fixer. I like to fix things and working with orthopedics allowed me to do just that," she said.
One of her first patients she had to work on was herself.
"When I was doing my residency, I broke my foot but I didn't want anybody to know," Allen said. "However, I started limping around and my boss didn't think that was such a good idea. They put me in a boot and I was able to do my rounds and even surgery."
She received her medical degree with Highest Honors from Chapel Hill,. Pam completed her internship and residency at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. She also completed her fellowship in Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, MD.
How did she accomplish all this? One big reason was her time as a student-athlete at UNC Asheville.
"Medical school is certainly challenging but being a student-athlete was a big reason why I was able to do well," Allen admits. "When you're a student-athlete, you learn how to balance everything in your life. You learn to move forward, deal with adversity and problem-solve. We're the best multi-taskers because you have to be."
After finishing her fellowship in Baltimore, it was decision time for Dr. Allen. And once again Asheville beckoned.
"I had an opportunity to join the faculty at Chapel Hill which was very tempting," said Allen. "But I wasn't sure that's what I wanted to do. I just picked up the phone and called Blue Ridge Bone & Joint in Asheville and asked if they needed a foot and ankle doctor.
Blue Ridge Bone & Joint was delighted to hire Pam Allen in the summer of 2009.
"I just realized my heart was in Asheville," said Allen. "It was just meant to be for me to be back in Asheville and I couldn't be happier to be back. Blue Ridge Bone & Joint is a great practice and the fact they work so closely with UNC Asheville Athletics is just icing on the cake for me."
Allen stays busy in her job. Three days a week she works in the office seeing patients and one day is spent in the operating room at Memorial Mission. Dr. Allen is on call three days a month which means 24 hours on those particular days.
"You'll never know what you'll get when you're on-call," stated Allen. "You can get a hip fracture, an ankle fracture or a foot fracture or you might get all three in one day. "
She's just glad she's doing it in Asheville.