Athletic trainers vital part to Aggies' success both on and off the field
by Cara Pilgrim '14
Every day, athletes at Texas A&M are constantly pushing their bodies to go harder, faster, and stronger in order to grow as fierce competitors.
However, even with precautionary measures, athletes are at risk for injuries, and it is important they are treated with proper care.
This is where the Texas A&M Athletic Training staff comes in to play.
With training facilities located around campus, any athlete from all 20 varsity sports has easy accessibility to the athletic training staff. Whether it is just getting an ankle taped before practice or assessing a serious injury, the certified athletic trainers are there to make the ultimate decisions as to how serious the injury is, how long a player needs to sit out, and how often they need to be treated.
The Bright Athletic Training Room is the largest training facility on campus and is where many members of the football team will be throughout the week getting treatments. The 15,000 square-foot facility includes designated areas for treatment, taping and rehabilitation. It is also equipped with two doctors’ offices, a full x-ray system with a processing room, a conference center, and a “wet area” that contains a hot tub and a cold tub.
- David Weir, head football athletic trainer
With football in season, the full-time staff--as well as student assistants--are constantly working to keep the players healthy. There is a mixture of students who are in the Master’s of Athletic Training program who are working on their graduate degrees, as well as undergraduate intern students that are learning to be athletic trainers as well. These 11 students along with the four full-time athletic staffers work together to make sure that the members of the football team are treated efficiently and safely while at home and on the road.
David Weir, head athletic trainer for Texas A&M football, is quite familiar with the routine.
“On most mornings during the week, we start treating players around 7 a.m.,” says Weir. “Guys come in, we assess their injuries, take a look at them, and then we begin treatments.”
Before each football practice, the facility is usually a full house. There are players getting taped, putting on ankle braces, and exercising any precautionary measures before they start practicing. After practice, not only are the athletic trainers on hand, but also there is a general medicine physician and an orthopedic surgeon to take a look at any outstanding injuries.
“Our athletic training team as well as our doctors are the ones who deliver the health care for football,” says Weir.
Dr. Matt Kee is another athletic trainer for the football team who is also a state licensed physical therapist for all of the athletes at Texas A&M.
“I stay pretty busy,” says Kee. “If I am not busy, that means the coaches are probably pretty happy because their players are healthy. If somebody has a long-term injury, I get together with them, look at their class schedule, and work out times throughout the week that they can come in.”
On game days, the athletic trainers are constantly moving. Whether football has an early game or a night game, their routine always starts in the morning. While the players are still at the hotel, the athletic trainers are seeing players who have ongoing injuries that need to be treated before the game begins. This is all fitted around the pre-game meal and the meetings that the players attend depending on their position.
“Once the players get to the facility from the hotel, we start getting them ready for the game,” says Weir.
After going over emergency procedures with the athletic trainers on the opposing team, the Aggie sideline is double checked to make sure everything is ready to go, and the game begins.
“During the game, there are a lot of things happening on the sideline,” Weir said. “You don’t want to have tunnel vision; you have to have a big picture of the whole field. You are trying to see if a player gets hurt, how a player gets hurt, and then taking care of their injury.”
As football players come off the field, the athletic trainers and students are constantly checking the sidelines to make sure nobody is hurt. The athletic training staff wear radios so that they can communicate with each other on the field as well as the coaches. If a player is injured, it is important to let the coaches know very quickly that he cannot play, even if he is only going to be out for two or three plays. This allows the coaches to get their next player ready to get out on the field and ready to go.
When the Aggie football team is on the road, the athletic trainers bring everything they need with them. The same process that goes on at home games takes place at away games as well.
“When we go out of town, there are four full-time staff, four students, and two doctors that travel with the team,” says Weir. “The only thing we don’t take with us is the water and ice.”
Everything else they need such as coolers, tape, and equipment is loaded onto an 18-wheeler and it is trucked in to wherever the team is going. Within an hour after the game ends, the truck is on the road again and headed back to College Station.
For any sport at Texas A&M, the athletic training staff is a huge asset for the athletes. No matter the size of the injury, they will be there to make sure that the athletes stay the healthiest that they can be.
If a student is interested in pursuing a career in athletic training, more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs can be found here, where you can contact Kee for more information.
“In the state of Texas you are allowed to practice athletic training once you have met certain criteria,” says Kee. “For the undergraduate internships, we provide the core classes that they need along with the hours by rotating through different sports every year. It is a total of five semesters to complete so the earlier you can get involved, the better.”
Interested in a career in athletic training?
Click here and visit the links under the "Education Program" heading.