There are many different factors that contribute to a successful athletic team. The amount of work coaches and athletes put into their programs is obvious. However, one often overlooked, yet extremely essential part of the athletics at Lawrence is the athletic training department. The three athletic trainers at Lawrence, Ashley Rottier, Kelsey Sauer and Matt Wilfuer, put in countless hours of work. They are at almost every team practice, every home competition and spend extra time working with athletes through injury evaluation and rehab. Simply put, the student-athletes would not be able to do what they do at Lawrence without our athletic trainers.
While everyone would like to be in a world without injury, this simply is not realistic. Athletes are constantly pushing their bodies to their limits, which means that they are bound to push too hard and get injured once in a while, especially athletes competing in a contact sport. The athletic trainers are there for Lawrence student-athletes to diagnose not only injuries but also so much more.
Their small staff requires each trainer to serve multiple teams at a time, but despite this, the athletic trainers are able to find small chunks of time to get to know every athlete as an individual. The athletic trainers want to know how your injury is progressing, whether good or the bad, but they also want to know how life is going outside of athletics. For many athletes, they have become another support system at Lawrence. The athletic trainers see student-athletes at some of their lowest points suffering in pain from injury, but are also there to celebrate the high points of successful competition after hours and hours of rehab.
“The athletic training team is a huge aspect to my performance as an athlete,” said freshman track and field team member, Sarah Klemme. “I came into Lawrence with a torn labrum and anterior subluxation of my left shoulder and torn tendons in my left foot. The trainers have been extremely helpful with physical therapy for my shoulder and I am grateful. I could not compete to the best of my ability without the trainers providing care, ice bags, heating pads and many, many other instruments to heal the body.”
In addition to all the fantastic work that the athletic trainers do, the athletic training room can also be a source of camaraderie among athletes of different sports. Often there will be many different people from multiple different sports in the training room at the same time doing exercises or getting treatment. The training room is often filled with conversations about how different seasons are going and progressing, but conversations also venture into topics outside of athletics. The athletic trainers also have different ways of creating a fun environment, as there are frequent games on the whiteboard and the highly anticipated questions of the day. While these may seem like small gestures, this helps to create a light, fun atmosphere. Frequently, injury rehab can be painful and unenjoyable, but the athletic trainers at Lawrence really create an environment that shows that injury rehab can be entertaining as well.
As I end my athletic career at Lawrence, I am extremely thankful for the wonderful athletic trainers that have treated my injuries over the years. I have had my fair share of injuries ranging in cause from tripping over the sidewalk to general overuse, and the athletic trainers have been there for my recovery every step of the way. Without Graston, one of a number of manual therapy approaches that uses instruments with a specialized form of massage/scraping the skin gently, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and thirty minutes of exercises every day of the week, I would not have been able to compete. Additionally, I have developed a strong relationship with the athletic trainers in my time here, as they have become people that help me when I am frustrated and a group to celebrate the good performances with.
The athletic trainers, by taping ankles, filling ice baths and bags, doing Graston, suggesting exercises and so much more, keep the Lawrence student athletes in peak form so they are able to do their best on the field, court, track, rink, in the gym or in the pool.