Thursday, December 1, 2011

The team behind the scene: Sports medicine supports athletes, provides athletic training experience

By Justin Buchanan, Sports Editor

For Pacific Lutheran’s sports medicine team, there is no off-season.

As PLU’s fall athletic programs end their seasons and prepare for the off-season, the sports medicine program is busy preparing for the basketball and swim teams’ upcoming seasons.

Every day, starting at 10 a.m. and going until the end of the last practice day, PLU athletic trainers and assistants are busy supporting Lute athletes.

“Basically, we are in charge of the health and well-being of the athletes,” Co-Assistant Athletic Trainer Gen Ludwick said. “What people don’t see is that we are there pretty much all the time for them.”

This holistic approach in care for PLU athletes has been instilled by head athletic trainer Tim Tommerup .

“I consider sports medicine, for me, is a construct that looks and is built around the athlete and the individual,” Tommerup said.

When an athlete gets injured in a game or at practice, sports medicine trainers respond.

“When they get injured, we take them from the time we see them on the sideline, all the way through seeing doctors, rehabbing them and getting them back out to play,” Loebsack said.

Sports medicine works closely with off-campus medical providers, such as Puget Sound Orthopedics, to provide care. For instance, if a pitcher were to damage his or her rotator cuff in the shoulder, sports medicine would refer the injured player to have the injury further examined.

Care does not stop after the game or outside campus boundaries.

“Sometimes their rehab practices last for nine months, sometimes they will last for a couple of weeks and we’re there for it every step of the way,” Ludwick said. “That often involves us meeting them at their doctors appointment.”

In order to better ensure sports medicine’s holistic approach is met, sports medicine also works closely with on-campus health care providers such as the Health Center and the Counseling Center.

“It’s not like you have to come through the training room to receive a type of care,” Tommerup said. “We work with all those folks to provide care, it’s really a lot of people with different specialties working together.”

Not only does the team help athletes with physical rehab, sports medicine promotes healthy lifestyles.

“We talk to them about nutrition, general health maintenance, as a preventative measure,” o-assistant athletic trainer Alice Loebsack said.

The sports medicine program does not only provide services for athletes. It also provides training experience by hiring students to serve as assistant student athletic trainers.

Assistant student athletic trainer senior Joni Johnson is a sports medicine major and has been honing her craft since transferring to PLU two years ago.

“Not only do we provide services to our athletes, but it’s a great learning experience,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot better than [working at] Mickey D’s.”

Student employment with the sports medicine program is not restricted to sports medicine majors.

Assistant student athletic trainer senior Katie Farrel has been on staff since her first-year and is a philosophy major.

“It’s a different crowd than the humanities individuals I hang out with,” Farrel said.

The assistant student athletic trainers spend a majority of their time taping ankles, setting up heating pads, preparing ice bags and filling up water bottles.

“We’re professional water bottle fillers,” Johnson said.

The athletic teams have appreciated sports medicines holistic efforts. Football gives the program “attaways” at practices, Johnson said.

“Gen [Ludwick] is the best,” women’s basketball guard junior Shelly Kilcup said. “She doesn’t just care about your injuries but she cares about you.”

The sports medicine program has imparted every student athlete at PLU.

“I don’t think we would as successful without their commitment,” men’s soccer defender senior Aaron Grossberg said. “They’re an important part of the team, even if they aren’t on the box score or score goals.”