Sports Medicine is more than ankle tape

By Justin Buchanan, ’12

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

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

Everyday starting at 10 a.m. till the end of the last practice, which can be as late as 9 p.m., Pacific Lutheran athletic trainers and assistants are busy supporting Lute athletes.

Assistant student athletic trainer senior Katie Farrel tapes an ankle of a football player before practice. Farrel has worked in the training room since her first-year. She has enjoyed her time working with Pacific Lutheran student athletes. "I like them because they aren't getting paid to play sports," Farrel said. "They are people that like to play sports." Photo by Justin Buchanan

“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 Pacific Lutheran 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.

Pacific Lutheran athletic trainers do more than tape ankles and fill up water bottles.

Should an athlete get injured in a game or at practice, sports medicine’s trainers are there to respond.

“When they [athletes] 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,” co-assistant athletic trainer Alice 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 their his or her rotator cuff in their shoulder, sports medicine would refer the injured player there to a medical provider to have their injury further examined.

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

“Sometimes their [athletes] 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 do they meet help athletes with physical rehab, sports medicine promotes healthy lifestyles.

“We talk to them about nutrition, general health maintenance as a preventative measure,” Loebsack said.

The sports medicine program also hires students to serve as assistant student athletic trainers.

Senior assistant student athletic trainer Joni Johnson is a sports medicine major, has been honing her craft for two years since transferring to PLU.

Assistant student athletic trainer Katie Farrel volunteers her ankles to new student trainers. During down times in the training room trainers hone their skills by practicing on each other. Photo by Justin Buchanan

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

However, one does not have to be a sports medicine major to join sports medicine’s team.

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 then 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 joked.

The athletic teams have appreciated sports medicines holistic efforts.  The football team gives them “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.”

Men’s soccer defender senior Aaron Grossberg is currently rehabbing from a groin strain and comes in daily to the training room.

“I don’t think we would be 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.”

Men's soccer defender senior Aaron Grossberg rehabs his groin muscle in the training room before practice. "During season you're never 100 percent healthy," Grossberg said. Photo by Justin Buchanan



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