Trainers instrumental in helping Blugold teams
Anyone who has ever played a sport, especially at a competitive level, knows the importance of avoiding and treating injuries.
Whether it’s nagging shin splints that slow a runner down or a dislocated shoulder that sends a football player to the sideline, injuries can be an athlete’s worst nightmare.
Thankfully, UW-Eau Claire athletes have a dedicated team of certified and student trainers they can count on to keep them in the action or on the fast road to recovery.
Eau Claire’s training team, which consists of five certified trainers and 16 students, keeps a close eye on all of the 20 Blugold teams.
“This is definitely a seven-day-a-week job,” said Julie Reifsnider, a senior trainer who will graduate in December.
Reifsnider, who works with the football team, and the rest of the students can log as many as 35-40 hours per week working either in the training room or at an event. That’s like having a full-time job, except they don’t get paid.
The kinesiology department is set up to allow student trainers to complete all of their classes by 2 p.m. This enables head trainer Andy Baker, who is in his first year at Eau Claire, to have eight to 10 trainers in the training room until around 6:30 or 7 p.m. Senior Shari Durch, who also will graduate at the end of the semester, has enjoyed her experience at Eau Claire after transferring from Winona State University (Minn.).
She worked with the men’s hockey, soccer, wrestling, cross country and track teams during previous semesters. This year she is helping the football team.
The experience with different types of athletes taught her that trainers need to know the psyche of the athletes they are working with as much as coaches do.
“Getting to know them as a person and their personality really helps us treat them,” Durch said.
Reifsnider and Durch said they usually work from about 2 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 to 4:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Saturdays can get especially long with away games.
The trainers said they often wish they had more free time, but they know their countless hours of toil will pay off in the future.
“When I get out of here, all of this will be worth it,” Reifsnider said.
Meanwhile, she, Durch and the rest of the student trainers can take pride in knowing the Blugold athletes would be hurting without them.