Heads, shoulders, knees and toes

Story by Spenser Bickett


That’s the first thing senior defensive lineman Nate Johnson said he felt when he got injured in UW-Eau Claire’s last home football game of the year against UW-Whitewater on Nov. 5.  Johnson dislocated his ankle, tore all the ligaments around his ankle and broke his fibula in multiple spots on the same play during the game.

He said it was the most serious injury he’s had playing football and knew right away that it was a bad one.

As he lay on the turf, Johnson said his main concern was getting off the field.

“I was just waiting to get up, just asking the trainers to get up, because I just wanted to get off the field,” Johnson said.

Head athletic trainer Garry Grant initially examined Johnson on the field and was joined by two student athletic trainers.

“The students on the field were pretty much in charge of calming me down, because the pain was so bad at the time, and then they helped carry me off,” Johnson said.

Because of the severity of the injury, which required surgery, Johnson didn’t get to work with the student trainers until spring semester.  He didn’t start walking until January, and student trainers have been largely responsible for his recovery.

“They started me on easy exercises just to build strength around it.  I’m still going through it, and at this point, I’m going to start running this week,” Johnson said.

Without the help of student trainers, Johnson said he would be lost in his recovery.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the trainers because I have no clue what to do. I would’ve probably tried to run once I got out of the boot,” Johnson said.

The Department of Kinesiology hosts the athletic training major, which accepts about 12 students per year, according to the program’s website.

These navy windbreaker-clad students are the ones responsible for keeping Blugold athletes healthy and on the field.

They’re at every athletic event, on hand in case an athlete goes down and needs attention, like in Johnson’s case.  They work behind the scenes to keep athletes performing in peak condition so they can go out and play hard for Eau Claire.

Because they’re so often in the background and not noticed, most students aren’t aware that they’re there.  But here’s some information on just a few of the students keeping the athletic program filled with healthy athletes.


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