Athletic trainers John Lavender and Ian Mushinski have been honored for their work at Winston-Salem State following the care they gave after football player Marquise Gaddy was injured.
Last September Gaddy suffered life-threatening injuries in a routine tackling drill during practice that required Lavender and Mushinski to respond immediately. Gaddy, a freshman defensive back from Charlotte, was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injuries.
About a month later Gaddy, after extensive rehabilitation, walked out of a Charlotte hospital. Gaddy is expected back at WSSU this fall.
Lavender and Mushinski were presented with their North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association awards on Saturday in Wrightsville Beach at the NCATA conference.
The two were among several trainers throughout the state who won the Lifesaver Recognition Award.
Mushinski, the head athletic trainer at WSSU, has been with the school for the last years.
Lavender has been at WSSU since 2013, and the two, along with Theodora Scott, help oversee the athletic training staff on campus. Scott has been at WSSU since November of 2012, and they are responsible for overseeing all the sports offered at WSSU with more than 200 athletes.
“Both of those guys have a great level of professionalism,” coach Kienus Boulware of the Rams said about Lavender and Mushinski. “When that unfortunate incident took place, John and Ian were on it fast and responded very well….I’m happy that both of them are being recognized because they definitely stood tall.”
Mushinski, 40, has been an athletic trainer for 17 years and says getting such a prestigious award isn’t why they do the job.
“You enjoy it I guess on a personal level, but the less the athletics trainers are seen the better because we are used to being in the background,” said Mushinski, a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan who grew up in Eden.
In his 17 years as an athletic trainer he’s had athletes get hurt but not to the extent of what happened to Gaddy.
“It’s satisfying for us when you see an athlete get back on the field or the court after an injury but in this case seeing Marquise return to a normal life is very satisfying,” Mushinski said.
Lavender, 45, has been an athletic trainer for 21 years, said he was flattered by the award.
“I am honored and humbled to have received this recognition,” said Lavender, who earned his undergraduate degree from Elon and his Masters degree in exercise science from Appalachian State. “While this is an unfortunate injury, I hope it spotlights the importance of the athletic training profession.”
Lavender was praised by Gaddy’s family last fall for keeping in contact with them long after the accident. “The real accolades should go to Marquise because he is the one who persevered and overcame this terrible injury by keeping such a positive attitude,” Lavender said.
The other athletic trainers throughout the state who were awarded Life Recognition Awards were Kim Chase, Sally Mays, Jake Mir and Carly Natsis of North Carolina’s volleyball medical staff, Eric Hall of Cary High School, Roslyn Hart, Sara Woods and Jordon Johnson of the Carolinas Healthcare System in Blue Ridge, Brandon Johnsson and Jordan Jones of Southeastern Healthcare, Elizabeth Nottingham of South Rowan High School, Brenda Paider of Catawba College, Heather Teague of Providence Day School and Tracy Yoshikawa of East Carolina.
According to the news release from the North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association, there were nine lives saved last fall because of the presence of certified athletic trainers.