By Steven Marowski, '18
For six weeks stretching from mid-January through February, Albion Athletics is in full swing. There are 12 teams in action, ranging from teams in the middle of the season, like basketball and swimming & diving, to teams gearing up for the start of the season. With all that activity, it’s a stressful period for the athletic training staff.
The athletic trainers are the unsung heroes of the athletic department. Working up to 12 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week, they provide care for nearly 300 athletes during this period. Andy Lawrence, the head athletic trainer, believes that the challenge is for each team to receive consistent coverage to ensure that the student-athletes stay healthy.
“Scheduling rehab times and getting consistent levels of coverage for all sports is one of the toughest things we do,” Lawrence said. “My philosophy is to try and provide the same coverage for each sport for the duration of their season, and this helps maintain consistency for our athletes.”
During most crossover seasons, the Dow Recreation and Wellness Center is buzzing with the men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball teams either in practice or competition. However, this year has been a little different in that warmer temperatures have allowed teams to practice outdoors. With men’s and women’s lacrosse utilizing the turf field, it allowed the baseball, softball and track and field teams to schedule the Fieldhouse.
However, when they can’t get outside, the hours for the AT staff can be long.
“If they can’t practice outside, teams will go until 10:30 or 11 p.m.,” Assistant Athletic Trainer Andrew Meschke said. “On Mondays and Wednesdays when baseball has practice, there’s an athletic trainer in the building from 5:30 a.m. until at least 10:30 p.m.”
Coupled with the long hours comes the long month of February. According to Meschke, each trainer gets about one full day off in February. With practices going seven days a week for the entire month, the trainers try to even it out so that each one of them gets at least a full day off.
The preparation for the season is arguably the most important part of the season. There needs to be a great deal of coordination between the athletic trainers so that everything is in order going into the season.
“To be prepared for the season, I try to come up with a general schedule for the staff,” Lawrence said. “This allows us to have a plan for the ‘stressful’ period and allows us to have more fun during this part of the year.”
Along with the athletic trainers, there are also student athletic trainers that pair with each team. Depending on the sport, a team can have up to four student athletic trainers with them during the season. Obviously, the extra heads and hands are beneficial to the staff.
“It’s incredibly helpful to have student AT’s with us because they’re doing as much or more than we are,” Meschke said.
Each athletic trainer is assigned to specific sports, and they each have their own challenges that come with those sports. For Meschke, it’s all about balancing what goes on in the Dow Fieldhouse and what goes on in the athletic training room.
“I’ll be running back and forth from 3 p.m. until 8 or 9 p.m.,” Meschke said. “Just balancing my time so everyone gets treated fairly is a tough thing during this part of the season.”
For Assistant Athletic Trainer Kayla Baker, she’s running around campus between the Dow and Kresge Gymnasium – the home facility for the Briton basketball teams – and that doesn’t make her job any easier.
“I’m not in the Dow athletic training room very much because I’m over at Kresge,” Baker said, adding e-mail from student athletic trainers provide valuable information about treatment plans.
The crossover season might be tough, but it’s a necessary part to keeping the athletes of Albion College healthy.
“Crossover season could be viewed as a negative for us, but it gives us the opportunity to utilize our skills with a variety of athletes,” Lawrence said. “That’s what makes Division III athletics so much fun for me, even if it’s viewed as a challenge by others.”