Article reposted from The Blade
Before an early October meeting between two winless high school football teams, Bowsher athletic trainer Meghan Gregoire wraps tape around wrists and ankles.
Before its game against Rogers, the Bowsher bench buzzed with anything from political debates to pop culture references. The Rebels also watched their opponents warm up, speculating about who would take over at quarterback for the Rams.
“I don’t care who it is,” one defensive lineman said. “I’m going to add him to my highlight reel.”
In the middle of the trash talk and miscellaneous conversation was Gregoire, now a student at the University of Toledo. She’s been with the Rebels’ athletic program since August and will stay until the end of next year, when she graduates with a master’s degree in exercise science.
Two minutes before kickoff, she anxiously stretched and paced. She gets nervous right before every game, after all the players are wrapped, stretched, and she’s met with the opposing team’s athletic trainer.
“No amount of training can prepare you for everything,” Gregoire said. “You can never be ready for every possibility.”
That’s not to say Gregoire doesn’t enjoy her job.
Gregoire trades barbs with the players, who she refers to as her “little brothers.” But there certainly are some responsibilities she finds less than ideal, such as stalking the sideline looking for players who are hurt but avoiding eye contact so that Gregoire doesn’t pull them from the game.
“It’s definitely important [to bond] because some of these kids, I wouldn’t know they were hurt unless I knew who they were,” Gregoire said. “A lot of times, they won’t come to you and tell you they’re hurt. It’s the way they act or the way they don’t act.
“You really just become part of the team. I honestly could tell you that they couldn’t get through a day without me.”
There’s also dealing with a player after an injury threatens his season. Gregoire understands the sensitivity to this process firsthand, as the former softball standout suffered a career-ending knee injury in high school. A doctor talked her through the grieving process, and he still remains her inspiration for her career choice.
Walter Windless, a junior defensive lineman who was sidelined all season by a torn meniscus, followed Gregoire along the sideline as she surveyed the field for injured players. They shared a brutal conversation in August about being unable to play this year, but she helped him through the grieving process.
“I kind of shut down because I just started to play more,” Windless said. “I thought I let down my team. She lifted me up as a player. I can’t wait to have her back next year, hopefully to some better results.”