Professional Sports

An Ode to Mets Athletic Trainer Ray Ramirez: The Snakebitten Trainer for a Snakebitten Team


Article reposted from Sports Illustrated
Author:  Jack Dickey

Let me stipulate that some jobs are truly and unavoidably thankless. They are suicide missions. They are jobs where you will be noticed if and only if your employer falls short of its objective as it seems to concern you—even if you personally are blameless. Armored car driver, White House ethics lawyer, that kind of thing. I cop to precisely zero knowledge about whether head athletic trainer for a famously snakebitten baseball club is or isn’t such an appointment.

One man who might have an opinion, Ray Ramirez, was officially separated today from his longtime gig as the New York Mets’ head trainer. He’d been a survivor, all things considered. He’d held the job since fall 2004 and served under three managers and two general managers amidst ceaseless griping about the team’s perpetual injury problem. Until recently, speculation had been that Ramirez would retain his job despite an organizational purge that claimed manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

Athletes get hurt; that comes with the territory. But it sure seemed like the Mets got hurt more, and more cruelly, than most. Each member of the team’s vaunted young rotation has suffered at least one season-ending injury in the last two seasons. The exception is Noah Syndergaard, who earlier this year refused an MRI, pitched through pain, tore a muscle, and wound up missing five months. Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz all enter the offseason with their big-league futures in serious doubt. Yoenis Cespedes, the team’s best hitter, missed half of the 2017 season with presumably manageable leg injuries, and David Wright missed the entire season after injury setbacks in spring training.

And as with the Syndergaard affair, the team’s initial diagnoses and treatment approaches tended to misfire. In 2015, what turned out to be Wright’s degenerative spinal condition was first identified as a mere hamstring strain. In 2009, with bone chips in his elbow, reliever J.J. Putz received a cortisone shot instead of surgery. He tore his UCL. In 2008, outfielder Ryan Church was held off the disabled list—and flown on a road trip to high-altitude Colorado—after sustaining his second concussion of the season.

During the Ramirez era, Johan Santana turned from an innings-eater to cautionary tale, and Moises Alou, always injury-prone, managed the astounding feat of playing in just 102 games between 2007 and 2008. Every big-ticket acquisition other than Curtis Granderson wound up missing extended time at one point or another. (To be sure, this group consists primarily of older players, and as such may very well be more prone to injury than the entire population of baseball players.) Overall, in 2017, the payroll-challenged Mets ranked second in baseball in total salary lost to the disabled list, according to Spotrac. And from the start of the 2010 season through mid-2017, according to FiveThirtyEight, the team ranked eighth overall in potential player contributions lost to the disabled list.

All the while, Ramirez made a terrific scapegoat. So much was going wrong with the Mets. But there was no direct and effective way to bemoan the post-Bernie Madoff parsimony of the team’s owners or the Sandy Alderson regime’s struggles in the draft. The M.D.’s from the Hospital for Special Surgery don’t sit in the dugout. And even in New York only a certain subset of fans is willing to boo the home team. Ramirez, though, was present, every third night jogging onto the field to wrestle with some fresh hell, something that could happen seemingly only to the Mets.

How culpable, personally, was he? (Who knew? Who cared?) For better or worse, the question now becomes his successor’s to answer. As for Ramirez? As Mets injury nomenclature would have it: His tenure with the team is day-to-day with a calf strain.

Professional Sports

Life of an NFL athletic trainer


Article reposted from VailDaily
Author: Richard Williams

Richard Williams is an athletic trainer who recently joined the team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. He works both in the office and in surgery. It’s pretty cool that he has a Super Bowl ring from 2015. In this article, I asked Williams to describe life as an athletic trainer in the NFL.

Dr. Rick Cunningham
Vail-Summit Orthopaedics

Football is back and for many people, it is an entertainment business that allows us to cheer on our favorite team each week. I had the privilege to work in the NFL as an athletic training student for two years and as a certified athletic trainer for a year.

“I hope that one day people will stop looking at athletic trainers as “water boys” and learn how much time and effort we put into the care of these athletes on a daily basis.”

This time of year reminds me of the hard work, dedication and time spent with those teams during training camp and moving forward into the season. I was lucky enough to work for two different NFL organizations, including the Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos.

The athletic training staff is only one component to the success of an NFL team, but it is a major part of helping athletes achieve maximum production from their bodies and ultimately keeping them on the field. The daily duties for an athletic trainer, as well as the hours they work, make the job difficult mentally and physically.


Most people do not know what an athletic trainer’s job entails. Some people may see athletic trainers as “water boys” with the easiest job in the world, but in reality, athletic trainers do much more than make sure the athletes are well hydrated. Athletic trainers are responsible for treatment throughout the entire injury process for a player, from the time of injury to the athlete returning to play.

During my time in the NFL, I would typically get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and arrive at work around 4:45 a.m. to start treatments by 5:30 a.m. Treatments would consist of therapeutic modalities (i.e. ultrasound), joint mobilization techniques, soft tissue massage, stretching, aqua therapy, physical exercises and core strengthening.

Treatments would continue until the players would go to individual and team meetings. NFL players cannot perform at their highest level if they do not continue to take care of the bodies. After player meetings, there would be more treatment sessions before practice.

While players were attending meetings, myself and another athletic trainer would set up the field for practice. Before practice, athletic trainers would each lead 10-15 athletes through a thorough stretching program. During practice, athletic trainer duties included surveying the field for possible areas where the players were at higher risk of injury, hydration, immediate evaluation and treatment of player’s injuries, and helping the players or coaches whenever needed.

After practice, we would take medical equipment inside and begin further treatment sessions until the players went to additional meetings in the afternoon. After the players finished meetings, we would finish final treatments for the day. Training camp was always the most intense work schedule as we would have a walk-through practice and a full practice the same day. Our daily hours would be from 5:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.


I believe that the head athletic trainer of the Houston Texans, Geoff Kaplan, said it best when he was interviewed about being an athletic trainer in the NFL.

He said, “It’s a very attractive job because all people see is Sunday, from noon to 3. What people don’t see is my cell phone is on and I am on call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week during football season. We’re on call just like a doctor is on call. During the season, you work six months straight without a day off. Depending on if we’re traveling or not, we’re working between 80 and 90 hours a week. During training camp, we’re working 110 to 120 hours a week. The Sunday part is very attractive but you have to have a very understanding family to do the Monday through Saturday part.”

I am thankful for the opportunity I had to work in the NFL and although I made great friendships and relationships with amazing athletes, I am more thankful for the education I was able to obtain and the skills and techniques that I will use for the rest of my career.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the 2015 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos organization that made the long days and grueling season all worth it.

I hope that one day people will stop looking at athletic trainers as “water boys” and learn how much time and effort we put into the care of these athletes on a daily basis.

Richard Williams is an ATC and OTC to Dr. Richard Cunningham, M.D. Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. Williams received his undergraduate degree in athletic training from the University of Cincinnati. As an undergrad, he completed two seasonal internships with the Cincinnati Bengals. Upon graduation from the University of Cincinnati, Williams worked as a certified athletic trainer fellow for the Denver Broncos and went on to be a part of the Super Bowl 50 championship team. Williams is a board-certified orthopedic technologist and licensed surgical assistant. For more information, visit

Professional Sports

Longtime Orioles head athletic trainer Richie Bancells retiring


Article reposted from The Baltimore Sun
Author: Eduardo A. Encina

Orioles head athletic trainer Richie Bancells, who has been a staple in the organization for more than four decades and is one of the team’s longest-tenured employees, told the club Sunday that this season — his 30th in his current role — will be his last.

Bancells told Orioles manager Buck Showalter before the Orioles’ season finale against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday about his decision to retire.

“There’s not much more pertinent news than that from me today,” Showalter said. “A guy that has been such a fixture for us for so many years and made so many contributions for us. So many that people didn’t see, evaluations. Let’s face it, he was the trainer for Cal Ripken. The conversation starts and stops there for me.

“Seeing players come back and what Richie meant to them, the pureness of heart and how much he loves the Orioles. … It’s a loss for us. It’s like losing a really good player. It’s a loss for us. …”

“There were just a lot of great moments, whether it was postseason stuff,” Bancells said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with so many good, good players, some of them in the Hall [of Fame]. It’s just hard to pinpoint one or two things after all these years, but it’s just been a great time.”

Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. credited Bancells for getting him through his record consecutive-games-played streak, thanking him during his acceptance speed in Cooperstown in 2007.

“He’s one of the most respected trainers in the business,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said “I’m sure he has some great war stories, but I want to thank him on behalf of the Orioles for his great work.

“There are a lot of players he’s helped over the years to be healthy and have great careers. He did it very professionally. He’s a great role model for young trainer coming into the big leagues and he grew as a professional over the course of his career. The Orioles owe a debt of thanks to Richie and we wish him all the best of luck.”

Over several generations, Bancells’ face was a recognizable face among Orioles fans as he would accompany the team’s manager to the field to attend to any injury concern.

“It makes you feel good,” Bancells said. “It does. It makes you know that they’re really true fans if they know who I am. And I actually have had the opportunity to help them. At times, they’ve asked me for advice and I’ve helped them with things and I’ve always enjoyed doing that. It touches you. It really does touch you.”

Bancells said he decided to retire to be able to spend more time with his wife of 39 years, Carol, his three children and seven young grandchildren.

“This has become pretty much a 24/7 year-round job,” Bancells said. “And that’s the thing, it’s realizing that you’re being dragged a little bit further from your family. And as I said, all of our kids are grown and they have spouses and I have seven beautiful grandchildren. I’m really anxious to spend time with them and do things and go places with my wife Carol that I haven’t had the chance to do.”

Professional Sports

Twins athletic trainer Dave Pruemer decides to call it a career


Article reposted from StarTribune

Even the excitement of a pennant race can’t beat the lure of home.

That’s what Twins athletic trainer Dave Pruemer has decided after 24 years in the organization, and 13 in the major leagues. Pruemer will retire once the season ends in order to move his family back to his and wife, Tina’s, tiny rural hometown of Teutopolis, Ill.

“It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” said Pruemer, who will throw out the first pitch before Saturday’s game with the Tigers. But his children, HannahDylan and Tyler, are now 16, 13 and 11, and “it was just time to get home and see the kids more. They’re at an age now where I realized, I don’t want to miss everything. I feel like I miss too much. I don’t want to travel eight months a year anymore.”

Pruemer, 46, was hired by the Twins in 1995, shortly after graduating from Southern Illinois, and he worked at nearly every level of the system, starting at rookie-level Elizabethton through Class AAA Rochester. He was promoted to the major leagues in 2005, and has been the team’s head athletic trainer in 2013.

“I’ve think I’ve known Dave my entire career,” said Joe Mauer, drafted by the Twins in 2001. “We shared a lot of laughs, and a lot of not-so-good times, too. But he’s been consistent the whole way through, every day, and you really appreciate that, especially in this sport.”

Added second baseman Brian Dozier: “He’s very blue-collar. He’s not a trainer who’s going to baby you. He’s a country guy who always shot it to you straight.”

In memoriam

After smashing an upper-deck home run in the second inning Friday, Eduardo Escobar waved his arms as he neared home plate, kissed his right hand and held it to the sky. The gesture had more meaning than usual for the Twins third baseman.

Escobar’s grandfather, Marquiade Escobar, died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in Venezuela. The 79-year-old had recently been hospitalized with a bout of bronchitis, his grandson said, but had been released and appeared to be recovering when he was stricken.

Escobar grew up about 15 miles from his grandfather, he said, and they were very close. “He always supported me,” Escobar said. “Mucho.”

Decisions, decisions

All of the Twins got to celebrate the team’s playoff slot Wednesday night in Cleveland, but not everybody will be coming to the wild-card game Tuesday, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. And so he began the somewhat difficult process on Friday of informing players that they probably won’t be on the playoff roster.

“You want to err on over-communicating those things,” Molitor said of breaking the bad news to players. “Some [meetings] have already happened, and some will happen tomorrow.”

Molitor said he had discussions with Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, General Manager Thad Levine and their staffs on Friday about what shape the roster might take next Tuesday against either the Yankees or Red Sox. It’s likely they will have 10 or 11 pitchers on the roster for the game, Molitor said.

The Twins don’t have to turn in a final roster until Tuesday, Molitor said, and they might need the time to make a few final calls. Miguel Sano’s status “is the wild card,” he said. “A lot of people have contributed and not everybody is going to have a chance to be a part of it. It’s just the way it is.”

• The Twins don’t get to play host to the wild-card game, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t watch it at Target Field. The team will open the Delta Sky 360 level to fans, who can watch the 7 p.m. game on the scoreboard. Admission is free, and the team will provide games and music, with concession stands open.

Professional Sports

Remembering the Vikings Fred Zamberletti


Article reposted from
Author: Eric Smith

Fred Zamberletti saw thousands of touchdowns while in Minnesota.

From Fran Tarkenton’s first, a 14-yard pass to Bob Schnelker on the team’s inaugural day, to Bill Brown, Chuck Foreman, Ahmad Rashad, Cris Carter or Randy Moss, the original Viking celebrated touchdowns from the sidelines for decades.

Zamberletti, 85, who has been with the team in some capacity since the franchise was founded in 1961, said he usually had a ritual of congratulating players who scored by giving them a tap on the back.

But during the 1998 season, the player who scored the most touchdowns for the Vikings that year wondered why he never got any love from Zamberletti, the longtime trainer for the Vikings.

“He said to me one time, ‘How come when I score touchdowns you don’t pat me on the back?’ I had to think about that quickly,” Zamberletti said with a smile as he recalled the interaction with Moss. “I said, ‘Because I know you’re going to do it again.’ He said, ‘You’re right.’

“That settled that,” Zamberletti said.

The 1998 season was Moss’ first with Minnesota and Zamberletti’s last as the team’s Head Athletic Trainer, a role he had held for almost 40 years. He was the Coordinator of Medical Services from 1999 to 2001 and has been a Consultant/Team Historian ever since.

The trainer from Iowa and the wide receiver from West Virginia bonded over the years, playing pickup basketball in the offseason and chatting their childhoods in coal mining country.

Zamberletti is one of 21 members of the Vikings Ring of Honor, a number that will soon grow to 23 with the additions of Moss and Rashad.

When Moss was surprised with the induction announcement in June, he spoke about the people who helped him secure a place in Vikings lore.

And he made sure to place a phone call to someone special to him.

“He called me up,” Zamberletti said. “I told him, ‘It’s an honor to have you in the Ring of Honor.’ ”

Moss responded: “No, it’s an honor for me to be with you in the Ring of Honor.”


Professional Sports

Professional baseball provides an exciting and rewarding experience for athletic trainer


Article reposted from Illinois State University News
Author: Barbara Schlatter

School of Kinesiology and Recreation alum Dustin Vissering ’11 earned his bachelor’s degree in athletic training. A native of East Peoria, Illinois, Vissering said it was the fine reputation of Illinois State’s athletic training program that attracted him to the field. He always enjoyed following the Peoria Chiefs baseball team growing up and was aware of ISU’s involvement with the team. He was elated to land an internship during the summer following his junior year with the Chiefs because it meant he could live at home and spend the summer working for a professional baseball team.

Vissering stayed involved with collegiate baseball while earning his masters in sports management from Western Illinois University, before completing a year stint with the Kansas City Royals in 2013. He is currently in his fourth year as athletic trainer with the Texas Rangers where he was first hired in Rookie League, and later promoted through the system to Short Season A (Spokane Indians), and now to the Low A affiliate where he serves the Hickory Crawdads in North Carolina. A typical day for Vissering on a game night begins midday when he prepares the treatment room. Players spend 1-2 hours with him doing stretches, getting taped, or receiving massages to loosen up. The next couple of hours are spent observing the pitchers stretch and throw, and watching batting practice. The team eats dinner together before receiving pre-game treatments and getting dressed for the game. Post-game, Vissering takes care of the pitchers’ arms and shoulders, and provides more elaborate treatment for anyone who may have been injured during the game. There are also injury reports to be written before the day’s end. By 11 p.m. he is ready to go home.

The most challenging aspect of Vissering’s job is that he wears many hats besides being the team athletic trainer. When the team is on the road he not only cares for health and well-being of the players, but he prepares the trip itinerary, makes hotel arrangements, arranges workouts at the gym, and takes care of food for the team. If a player is promoted or demoted, Vissering assists with the travel arrangements and prepares documents for the player to transition to their new team. Juggling these duties to make sure everything goes smoothly requires constant organization and attention to detail.

The most rewarding part of his work occurs in his capacity as an athletic trainer. Seeing a player who has been injured follow Vissering’s rehabilitation protocol, and then return to the field and excel is very satisfying. It is clear to Vissering that the countless hours spent in the classroom and in clinical settings pays off in the end when you see how the players put their trust and faith in the athletic trainers.

Vissering was voted the 2016 South Atlantic League Athletic Trainer of the Year by his peers in the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS). He was also nominated and chosen by the Rangers to work as an athletic trainer in the 2016 Arizona Fall League.

Vissering’s fondest memories of ISU are from the friendships he made with the athletic training cohort and his professors, especially Kevin Laudner and Justin Stanek. His advice to new KNR alums is to, “Always go above and beyond what is expected. Treat everyone with respect and remember that there is no job that you’re too big for. Let your work speak for itself.”

Professional Sports

Saints elevated Beau Lowery to director of sports medicine


Article reposted from The New Orleans Advocate
The Saints apparently made some changes to their training staff this offseason that flew under the radar.

Beau Lowery was elevated to director of sports medicine after spending the previous two seasons as director of rehabilitation. Scottie Patton still remains as head athletic trainer.

In the team’s media guide, Lowery is listed as the first name under the heading of “sports medicine.” In the 2016 media guide, Patton had top billing under the heading of “athletic training.” Lowery was listed second.

This change happened before the misdiagnosis on Delvin Breaux’s broken fibula led to the firing of two team orthopedists.


Lowery spent two years as a physical therapist at the Baton Rouge Orthopedic Clinic before landing with the Saints and served as an associate athletic trainer/physical therapist at LSU from 2004-210, working primarily with the baseball team. He also worked with the men’s golf and cheerleading programs.

Prior to working with LSU, he spent three summers with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Professional Sports

Checking in on the Lakers Athletic Training Room


Article reposted from
Author: Mike Trudell

Marco Nunez took over the position of Lakers Head Athletic Trainer from Gary Vitti last season and completed a year of generally good health from a roster of mostly young players.

We sat down with Nunez at the tail end of the team’s Summer League experience in Las Vegas to discuss where he wants to devote more focus leading into the 2017-18 campaign, what areas of emphasis he’s circled for the players and how it’s going working alongside new management on the basketball ops side.

Below is a transcription of our conversation:

MT: Where are you at this point compared to when you took over the job from Gary Vitti last August?
Nunez: My role is still continuing as is it has for the last year. The one thing about this summer is it’s allowing me to get my head together and see what I want to implement and begin for the coming season. Last year I took the position in August, and I didn’t really have time to sit down (and think). Getting one year under my belt, I was able to see the ins and the outs, what I like and don’t like, what I want to change or implement. This summer is about seeing what new techniques, new modalities, new units, new programs, new nutrition … whatever it is, I’ll sit down with our staff and figure out what to improve for this upcoming year.

MT: Is part of that sitting down with the new front office and deciding where to put resources?
Nunez: We’ve already done that. We’ve had plenty of meetings with Luke (Walton), Magic (Johnson), Rob Pelinka. Last year when all the changes were occurring, we just wanted to get through the season. Then at the end of the season, it’d be time to figure out what we want to do moving forward. So I’ve sat with them a bunch of times to discuss a variety of things. For example, talking about where we want to add staff members and what we’d want them to focus on.

MT: What’s one area of focus?
Nunez: There are a couple areas we’re looking at, like hiring a nutritionist or a dietician full time. We’ve had somebody in the past that we’ve used that was great, but I know it was almost like a consulting kind of thing. I think we’re trying to decide whether we should make that position full time. I don’t know if that position would travel full time or not, but having them right there at the practice facility where guys can ask questions, and our chef, Sandra, can work with them closely and try to see what we can create for the players could really help.

MT: How about dealing with and anticipating injuries, which is something I know is always on your mind…
Nunez: Exactly, we’re looking at different companies right now. There’s one company we tried out at summer league, keeping track of guys exertion levels, exhaustion levels, sleeping patterns and stuff like that. Everything is going towards technological (advancement), so we’re looking at a company that’s more of an app. These players will go right on their phones the minute a game is over. So the app would ask some simple questions that gives us feedback about how the players are feeling and where they’re at from that perspective. The other thing we’re doing focuses on hydration. In the past, it’s always been, ‘Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of electrolytes.’ Traditionally there’s the, ‘Hey when you use the restroom, check your urine color, and if it’s dark red or orange, it means you’re dehydrated. If it’s a light color, you’re good’, but we can go deeper than that. I know we’re working with GSSI, Gatorade Sports Science Institute; they came last year and tested most of our guys as far as sweat analysis and to try and create a hydration program for the guys. We’re testing that out in summer league to see how it works. Whether it’s advising how much water and electrolytes to drink six hours before a game, how much during a game and more importantly, after a game this is specifically how much water and Gatorade a specific player needs to consume. Especially on the road and for back to backs. We have to really focus on how our guys are recovering.

MT: How has the way you deal with these young players at Summer League evolved over the last several years?
Nunez: Back when I first started, we’d typically only have one or two draft picks at summer league because we were winning championships. This summer league team is different, with six draft picks that form part of the core of the roster (moving forward). So what we’re doing now and what Luke is trying to do is set a culture that will continue into training camp. Some of these one and done (in college) players aren’t used to having to come into the training room. Having to focus on stretching, on recovery, focus on hydration. We want to start those good habits now, not wait until training camp or the season to start.

MT: What kind of discussions did you have about how much to rest players in Vegas given that, on one hand, they’re young, but on the other, they aren’t used to playing so many games in so few nights?
Nunez: We had conversations about that with the coaches. Traditionally the mentality is they’re young guys, they can play as many minutes as you want. But that’s not always the case. These young guys aren’t used to playing this many minutes, especially on back to backs. You don’t play back to backs in college. Now they’re going to play back to back to back, exerting themselves? Personally I was a little surprised that we’d have guys playing back to backs. Ideally, it’d be nice if they got a Monday off and the game would have been Tuesday, but that’s a scheduling issue. From the sports medicine side, if you’re in the NBA Finals and it’s Game 6 or 7, and all your technology is showing you the player is in the red, are you really going to sit the guy? And there’s a difference between the NBA Finals and the Summer League. My job is to provide them the information and then as a unit, along with management and the coaches, we make a decision.

MT: How about in the example of Josh Hart, the rookie who sprained his ankle and didn’t get back onto the court?
Nunez: That’s my saying, ‘He isn’t really ready to play’ as much as the coaches or management would love to see him play. As much as a player says ‘I’m ready to go,’ it’s my job to hold a player back if I think he’s not. One, it’s summer league, so it’s a risk/reward thing. Does the risk supersede the reward? We’re trying to create a tradition of winning, but it’s still summer league. If it were the Finals, different story. He was doing a lot better after (a few days), and could he go out there and play some minutes? Probably. But the problem was, as far as rehab, there’s a progression that you want to see from 1-on-0, 1-on-1, 3-on-3 and eventually 5-on-5. Since we played so many games, we didn’t have a chance to practice, and Hart didn’t get an opportunity to play 5-on-5 in practice for me to be able to say, ‘He’s ready to go.’ The risk was higher than the reward.

MT: Lonzo Ball came into the Summer League out of his best basketball shape, as he played no 5-on-5 from the NCAA Tournament through the Draft. He said his legs felt heavy early, but he certainly looked better physically after getting the couple days between the second and third game he played. What have you thought of Ball’s physical progression?
Nunez: It wasn’t a surprise he’d be fatigued early after taking close to a month off. But I’m trying to get away from the whole cookie cutter program. Every player is slightly different, it’s never one size fits all. That’s something we’re looking for as we develop these programs and technologies to cater to the individual. You have some players like Kobe Bryant, who could generally play as many minutes as he wanted and be fine. There are others where you can’t make that same assumption.

#AT4ALLProfessional Sports

Saints tab Make-a-Wish Recipient Athletic Trainer for a Day


Article reposted from WGNO

The Saints had a special guest at practice Wednesday, who got the chance of a lifetime to be out on the field with his favorite team.

Jetty Huish, better known as JJ, got to be a Saints trainer for the day, shadowing Saints Head Athletic Trainer Scottie Patton at practice. And, he got to meet his favorite player—Drew Brees.

“We played catch and we talked about how stuff goes at practice,” Huish said.

It was all made possible through the Make a Wish Foundation. They flew JJ and his family out to New Orleans from Sacramento, to make his wish of being a Saints athletic trainer come true. Now the question is, how do you become a Saints fan when you’re from California?

“I don`t know honestly, but one of the reasons was because I was really young and they were the same color as batman,” Huish said. “I’m a real Northern California rebel when it comes to sports.”

JJ just turned 13 years old and has already undergone 2 bone marrow transplants to treat a form of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). He is now currently going through gene therapy in Washington, D.C. But none of that has stopped him from keeping-up with the Saints, and knowing that his team needs to get-off to a good start if they want to have a good season.

“I just hope they beat the Browns in their first game,” Huish said. “Because if they don’t beat the Browns, then it’s going to go downhill from there.”

Professional Sports

Crewe a valuable part of Timberwolves’ crew


Article reposted from Kenosha News

David Crewe works for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He does not play for them, however — not that anyone confuses him as an NBA athlete.

“Not a chance,” he said. “I think I’m too short. I’m only 5-10. Guys used to give me a hard time when we had Luke Ridnour.”

Crewe, a 2004 Tremper graduate, accompanies the Timberwolves wherever they go as the team’s head strength and conditioning coach/assistant athletic trainer.

He’s in the locker room, sits courtside with the team and travels from city to city.

“Like anything else when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t really notice what’s going on,” he said. “You kind of live it every day. It’s definitely humbling when you think back to where you are, what you get to experience. … I told my folks before, it’s not like it’s happened by luck. There was a lot of time, there was a lot of effort and sacrifices that have been put into it. There’s days I definitely feel blessed and I know I’m lucky, but I also know what it’s taken to get there. I feel like it’s well deserved.”

NFL experience

Crewe, who played basketball at Tremper, enrolled at UW-La Crosse knowing he wanted to be in sports medicine. It was during his freshman year that he decided the field would be athletic training.

For three years in college, Crewe had an internship with the Kansas City Chiefs, including one after he graduated as their assistant athletic trainer for the entire 2008 season. He worked with the running backs and wide receivers, and became friends with Larry Johnson.

“For whatever reason, he took a liking to me,” Crewe said. “We had a connection. He took good care of me, looked out for me, was delightful to work with. He was a pro and it was fun to be around him.”

After the season, Crewe returned to UW-La Crosse to take some more courses and worked in the athletic training department for about a year.


In 2010, he was hired by Minnesota as an assistant athletic trainer. The title of assistant strength and conditioning coach was added in 2013, and last year be was promoted to his current position.

“I try to tell our guys to be the MVP of their day,” Crewe said. “If it’s a lifting day, they need to be the best they can be in the weight room that day. If it’s a game day, they need to be MVP on the court. My message that I drive home every day is you need to get better one way or another in the facility today. Maybe the focus shifts from basketball to strength training, or maybe it shifts from strength training to some small rehab exercises. No matter what we’re working in that day, they need to try to be the MVP of that day.”

Crewe must practice what he preaches, since he was named the 2016-’17 NBATA David Craig Assistant Athletic Trainer of the Year recently.

But do the millionaire professionals listen to him?

“I think just like in any work setting, you’ve got some push and some pull in every direction,” Crewe said. “A lot of times we’ll rely on our veterans or our starters to really help facilitate the message we’re driving across. We typically get pretty good buy-in. It comes down to educating the player what we’re trying to do for them and show them you’re there to help them. You’re not trying to take anything away from them; you’re trying to make them the best basketball player they can be.”

Which includes making sure they eat the right foods, even if that includes octopus for some of the European players. So what does Crewe know about octopus?

“Not much,” he said. “One of the things we like to do because the NBA is an extremely global game — every year it seems like players are from different countries — we sit down with them and ask our nutritional team to find out things they do enjoy eating and are used to having, so we can make it available to them. We don’t want them worrying about their food, we want them worrying about basketball.”

There has been less worrying about basketball in Minnesota since the team acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler from Chicago in the offseason. Crewe, who enters his seventh season with the Timberwolves, has already had a chance to meet Butler.

“Telling him I’m from southeastern Wisconsin, he got excited since he went to Marquette,” Crewe said.

No favorites

Perhaps Butler will become Crewe’s next Larry Johnson. Just don’t ask him who his favorite NBA player to deal with so far is.

“I would like to, but I can’t say any names to show favoritism right now,” he said. “One day when I’m done working with the Timberwolves, we can have that conversation. How’s that? Otherwise that gives guys too much ammunition if they ever read the article or anything like that. They’ll give a hard time too much.”

Another thing Butler and Crewe have in common is the Bradley Center. Butler played there for Marquette and Crewe watched the Golden Eagles and Bucks while growing up.

Crewe joked it’s a family reunion when Minnesota visits Milwaukee, and he usually has around 30-40 relatives and friends in attendance.

“It’s special because we only play once a year,” he said. “It makes it that much more fun. Growing up in the area, being on the court in warmups, sitting on the bench with our team … it’s a lot of fun. It’s a very humbling experience.”