For the LMU Athletic Training Room It's About the People
LMU training room can be the busiest place on campus and at times can become the center of LMU athletics.
Feb. 6, 2004
It is roughly one o'clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday and the busiest place per square foot on the campus of Loyola Marymount University is not what one would think. It is not LMU's on campus commons area, the Lair, University Hall or the LMU bookstore. It is the LMU Athletics Training Room.
Right around 1,000-square feet, the LMU training room at a 1:00 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon is what Head Athletics Trainer Keith Ellison calls "organized and controlled chaos." In the height of it busiest time of the year, where all 17 LMU NCAA Division I sports are in action, the Training Room can make a casual onlooker dizzy.
However, Ellison, his two full-time assistants, Joe Gonzalez and Beth Drayer, and six student assistants, Jillienne Feather, Tiffany Gray, Andrew Hayden, Ryan Hodges, Marisol Rodriguez and Celeste Vergara, make it look easy.
In his 14th-year at LMU and eighth as the Head Athletics Trainer, Ellison and his staff have turned the LMU training room into a model for the school's main conference affiliate, the West Coast Conference.
"This is a great place to be because of the people," said Ellison, who graduated from LMU in 1987. "The fulltime staff we have here is the best in the conference. We have the right personalities for LMU and they all genuinely care and are concerned about the student-athletes, not just for their injuries and sports they play, but for each person as a whole.
"And it is not just my staff. It is the students that make this place great. The student-athletes care and respect what we are doing. With 17 sports and just three trainers, it can get difficult in seeing to every need of the athletes. But the students understand and respect each other and make this place very, very successful now and in the future."
On a given day, the Athletics Training Room will see about half of the 325 student-athletes at LMU. A given day will include lots of paper work, therapy for student-athletes recovering from injuries that keep them out of competition, appointments with doctors and pre- and post-practice needs.
"Our mission is to eliminate the chance for injury. We stress the use of ice and strength and conditioning to reduce the risk of injury. Thus, the traffic in our training room can get very heavy throughout the day," said Ellison, who has been busy this year. "We have had a lot of different injuries with many different teams. Because of that we have had a lot of traffic in our training room doing rehab and doing the normal stuff to prepare for practice or games."
The day and life for one of LMU's athletics trainer can be a busy one. Here is what that busy Wednesday looks like for the training room. Keep in mind this day didn't even include a game where all three trainers were in the office. Imagine what this day is like when one of the staff members is on the road with a team, like Ellison is with men's basketball at the time of this article.
Wednesday - February - Spring Semester 2004
7:15 a.m. - Players begin to arrive around 6:30 a.m. for pre-practice therapy. While taping and seeing to about nine of the women's basketball players, Drayer is also doing therapy with several of the players nursing injuries that have kept them out of practice. Women's swimming also arrives for their morning workouts and Drayer sees to their needs.
7:45 a.m. - With women's basketball practice in full swing, Drayer gets to attend to what all three trainers spend a good portion of their day doing - paper work and lots of it. She has several appointments to set-up with doctors later that day and insurance forms to work with. When paper work is mentioned, that is what they are doing.
8:00 a.m. - Joe Gonzalez and Keith Ellison arrive and begin the day with paper work and setting up what the rest of the day will look like. Wednesday afternoon is when the doctors come to campus to do routine check-ups on the student-athletes who have missed practice or games due to injury. Student-athletes start coming in and out for basic treatment before class. According to Ellison, between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. is when student-athletes come in for basic treatment because it does not conflict with class time.
9:30 a.m. - Women's basketball is finishes practice and Drayer attends to the post-treatment of the players.
10:00 a.m. - Men's soccer begins to arrive in the training room to prepare for their spring workouts. Ellison happens to attend to a new injury for one of the keepers and has to inform the coaches of the practice limitations. In addition, a group of about 10 student-athletes arrive for treatment required that is not part of their practice. They will be back later in the day for pre-practice treatment later in the day. Gonzalez sees to several of the new arrivals then goes back to the filling out paper work, which is required. Any treatment on an athlete is documented and filed.
11:00 a.m. - Some relieve. "The training room slows for about a half hour around 11 a.m. each day. It is during class and in between practice sessions. It isn't much, but we get to eat," says Ellison. As solid families do, the trainers eat lunch together. The time is short lived as the next wave of students start to arrive.
11:30 a.m. - Women's water polo and softball come in for their pre-practice treatment. With the throwing sports, (softball, water polo and baseball), almost all of the 70-plus combined athletes come in the training room for ice. As each student arrives, everyone greets the training staff with a friendly hello before dealing with the aches and pains. "The students are really amazing in how polite they are," said Ellison. "It makes our job easier."
12:30 p.m. - The rush is on in the training room as the four treatment tables, the stationary bike, two whirlpools and three taping tables are in use. There are three student-athletes at each whirlpool, a line of about ten more at the two large 50-gallon ice machines, two student trainers getting the ice buckets and water ready for afternoon practice and six more students waiting at the treatment tables. Women's soccer and women's tennis are in the room for treatment before practice and baseball starts to come in.
1:00 p.m. - As one of the largest teams, baseball fills the training room quickly. Ice is the main order of the day as all three trainers see to sore backs and shoulders for the most part. In the mean time, Ellison and Drayer get to more paper work.
2:00 p.m. - Men's basketball begins to arrive and Ellison works on the therapy for a sore back that has kept a player out four games. Ankles are wrapped almost with his eyes closed. Men's soccer, women's water polo, and women's tennis start to come in as they finish practice. Baseball is finished with pre-practice treatment.
3:00 p.m. - Men's basketball begins its practice while women's soccer files in at the end of their practice. Drayer prepares her paper work for the doctors coming in that afternoon.
4:00 p.m. - The doctor comes in around this time and begins to see about six student-athletes that day. Crew also comes in for their afternoon work out treatment.
5:00 p.m. - Men's basketball and baseball wraps up their practice sessions for the last heavy push on the day. Drayer wraps up her paper work and starts some daily wrap-up.
6:00 p.m. - The 12-hour day for Drayer is about finished and she heads for home. Ellison and Gonzalez go about the last few walk-in treatments to end the day. In addition they go about the long process of cleaning the training room. Ellison and his staff take pride in the cleanliness of the training room. "It is the smallest room in our conference, but we make it bigger by taking care of it," said Ellison.
7:30 p.m. - The 12-hour days for Ellison and Gonzalez come to an end. Thankfully this day had no contests or games and no visiting teams came to practice. This ended the day far earlier than on a game day. They will back for more on Thursday, which is a game day. GO LIONS.