Article reposted from LA Times
Author: Lindsey Thiry
The whistle blows and the Rams’ defensive linemen break from stretching to jog across the practice field.
Alongside the burly players runs Eli Kassab, with a towel draped around his neck and a carrier full of six Gatorade bottles clanking against his side.
When players come to a stop in an end zone where they will run position drills, Kassab is ready with a bottle in hand to quench their thirst.
But don’t call him a water boy.
Kassab, an athletic training intern, graduated from Weber State University and earned a master’s from Northern Arizona. He has been working as a trainer for four years and spent time with the Miami Dolphins before joining the Rams last April.
Keeping players hydrated might be the most visible part of his job, but it’s hardly all that it entails.
“The biggest misconception we get is that we’re just glorified water boys,” Kassab said, chuckling. “We know more about the body than just ice and water.”
Kassab arrives to work at the Rams temporary facility at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks around 6 in the morning. He doesn’t leave, typically, until 7 or 8 at night.
Throughout the day he assists with player treatment by taping ankles and patching blisters, packing medical equipment that travels with the team on road trips or makes its way to the Coliseum, and helping to prepare the practice field with hydration stations.
“A lot of the stuff that we set up for practice is to manage the situations where we don’t want to have heat exhaustion or heat illness of any kind and just making sure the guys are practicing safely,” Kassab said. “If they get hurt on the field we are there to take care of them and keep them hydrated and keep them going.”
Said defensive lineman Eugene Sims: “Their job is important to keep us in shape on the field and keep us from cramping up and having any injuries off the field.”
Athletic training piqued Kassab’s interest in high school after he suffered an injury and was tended to by a trainer. “Wanting to do the same for other athletes, that kind of sparked it for me,” said Kassab, who wants to become a head athletic trainer in the NFL.
“I love it. You really have to love this job to do it, that’s kind of the key part of it. If you don’t love this job then you won’t last very long.”