Lakeside Park resident Molly Woods, head athletic trainer at Northern Kentucky University, is on her way to her first Division I NCAA Tournament appearance when the 15th-seeded Norse take on the No. 2 seed University of Kentucky on Friday night in Indianapolis.
Woods attended Thomas More College for her undergraduate degree in sports medicine and got hands-on training at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
She served as athletic trainer at Highlands and Scott high schools for three years before starting her career at NKU as a graduate assistant in 2001. She has been head athletic trainer since 2005 and now works for St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine, which partners with Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers to provide medical services all NKU student-athletes.
Woods answered five questions about her time with the Norse.
How has your role changed through 16 seasons?
“The medical side never changes. A grade-II ankle sprain in Division I is the same as it is in Division II. Student-athletes will always be dealing with common injuries that come along with the game, but the game changes a bit when the stakes are higher, and it becomes more of a business through entertainment value and exposure to the next level. An increasing premium is put on timelines to get our student-athletes back on the court.”
The No. 1 focus this year in terms of student-athletes’ health?
“Recovery. Working with Dr. James Bilbo, head team physician, and strength and conditioning coach Brian Boos, we’ve incorporated new techniques and technology, like NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems and Polar heart monitors, to expand our knowledge. Our goal each year is to help our student-athletes track progress, push their limits and recover faster so they can perform at peak ability the next time they hit the court.”
Biggest hurdle you’ve faced this season?
“We lost freshman Jalen Tate to an injury (hand) early in the year. Other than that, it’s been your typical season. The flu ran through the team for a couple weeks, but we controlled it and got everyone back to 100 percent. We always put an emphasis on injury prevention through proper stretching and warmup routines.”
You grew up in Northern Kentucky (Notre Dame High School) and have degrees from Thomas More College, University of Cincinnati and NKU. Does the matchup with Kentucky mean more to you?
“I’m a proud member of the NKY community. In all honesty, though, I’ve never ‘bled blue.’ I truly carry the #NorseUp flag proudly. I can’t wait to get to Indy and take it all in.”
What makes this season so special?
“Each of the past 16 seasons have been special. I’ve had the pleasure to work with great head coaches (Ken Shields, Dave Bezold and John Brannen) and great players. This year is special for many reasons, but one stands out: I’ve been blessed to share it all with my 14-year-old son, Tyler. NKU won its first Horizon League tournament championship (59-53 vs. Milwaukee) on his birthday – he was in Detroit with me. I told the guys prior to the game they had to help with the ‘big present’ and they came through. Tyler was also able to join me on Selection Sunday with the team as we found out who we’d play in our first trip to the NCAA Tournament. The guys have taken him in as one of their own. It’s been a great ride and I’m glad I’ve gotten to share each moment with him.”