College and University

Concordia Graduate Assistant AT competes in wrestling tournament


Article reposted from The Concordian

Usually, college wrestling meets are reserved for members of collegiate teams. However, the Finn Grinaker Cobber Open, held Nov. 18, allowed for wrestlers not affiliated with a school to enter as unattached contestants.

Although Derrick Grieshaber, a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Concordia College, had not wrestled since his sophomore year as an undergraduate in 2012-2013, he decided to take advantage and enter the Cobber Open.

Though he lost all three of his matches, including one at the hands of a University of Minnesota wrestler, he is happy he gave it a shot.

“I’m absolutely glad that I did it,” Grieshaber said.

Lindsey Larson, a fellow graduate assistant athletic trainer in the NDSU program that also works at Concordia, was impressed by his effort.

“I was definitely impressed with what he did, being that he only had a month to get ready,” Larson said. “Especially for having to face Big Ten competition in his first match. Not a lot of people had to do that.”

As an undergraduate, Grieshaber wrestled for Lindenwood University in Belleville, Illinois, before quitting to pursue his goal of becoming an athletic trainer.

“I had to quit for my clinicals,” Grieshaber said. “So, it was kind of like well, we stop here.”

But that was not his final stop. Though he only started training a month and a half before the Cobber open, Grieshaber had been wrestling with the idea of competing again for awhile.

“Last year, it kind of popped up like hey this would be fun,” Grieshaber said. “Instead of having to work, this would be something different to do, and I kind of had a chip on my shoulder because I never really got to finish my career and see if I could still do it.”

Grieshaber almost missed his last chance to wrestle because of athletic training, again. The meet was scheduled on what would have been the first playoff game for a Concordia football team that just missed an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. If they would have made it, Grieshaber would have been taping ankles instead of taking his last shot.

When one door closes another one opens, and when the Cobber football team missed the playoffs, Grieshaber was assured a final chance to compete in his longtime favorite sport.

And although the sport is his favorite, Grieshaber says that it is not enjoyable.

“It’s a sport you train to win,” Grieshaber said.

Ricquel Ramsbottom, a student athletic trainer from MSUM, was surprised by Grieshaber’s decision to wrestle, but she thought that his athletic training background would give him an advantage.

“Derrick is the type of AT [athletic trainer] who has ice water in his veins,” Ramsbottom said. “Cool, calm, collected, and always well-hydrated.”

Grieshaber waited until he was eliminated to toss back on his khakis and begin training athletes, but had he been injured during the match, he probably would have played the role of athletic trainer on himself.

“I probably will not let anybody touch me if I do get injured,” Grieshaber said prior to the meet. “Depending on the severity of the injury, I’ll probably just pick myself up or do something to fix myself or just not say anything to anyone until the next day. You know, like a typical athlete.”

After the experiment, Grieshaber insists that he’s finally done.

“This will for sure be a last hurrah type of deal,” Grieshaber said. “My body, with the amount of training I’ve done in the past month and the weight cut, it’s official this will be my last deal.”

For now you can find him in the bowels of the Olson/Memorial complex, but perhaps one day he will get that itch again and come to a wrestling mat near you.

College and University

Concordia Athletic Trainers Keep Athletes Healthy


Through the school year, the Cobber community gets the opportunity to enjoy the variety of sports that Concordia has to offer. The audience get to see countless athletes participating in sports that they have partaken in their whole lives. While the audience gets to sit back and watch these athletes in action, those audience members should know that these athletes wouldn’t be there if they did not have their athletic trainers sitting on the sidelines. No athletic trainer, no athlete.

“Athletic trainers are super important,” Junior women’s basketball player Jenna Januschka said. “They help keep us healthy and get us back to 100% if we do get injured.”

Isaac Knutson, a senior undergraduate student at MSUM, gains experience at Concordia for a future career as an athletic trainer as he assists cheerleader Chantelle Blackowiak. Photo by Maddie Malat.

Currently, Concordia has three full-time athletic trainers — Don Bruenjes and Kathleen Vesta; both have a Masters degree of Science and Matt McManus who has a Masters degree of Art. Along with Bruenjes and Vesta, there are also two graduate program athletic trainers, Heather Bates and Kristin Jaskolski, gaining experience in the training room while working toward their Masters. Jaskolski and Bates are employed under NDSU, where they are pursuing their secondary degree and working at Concordia as a type of two-year internship.

Bruenjes, Vesta, Jaskolski and Bates all have designated sports that they work with through the seasons, but they also have help from undergraduate-student athletic trainers from MSUM, NDSU and Concordia as well. With 22 sports, hundreds of athletes and multiple-month-long seasons, it is the athletic trainers’ jobs to make sure the athletes are at their best to compete during the season.

In the training room during the early afternoon, right before practice or game times, one can see a well-oiled machine: athletes stretching, getting taped up, rehabbing a variety of injuries and a lot more, and alongside these athletes are their athletic trainers.

“The day-to-day job is prevention, care and rehab of athlete’s injuries,” Bates said.

While their athletes put in long hours of practice and training, the trainers put in just as much time and some days, that’s the worst part of the job.

“It’s long hours,” Vesta said. “I’m an adjunct professor as well teaching CPR, prevention and care so the hours I’m here vary depending on the day. If we have events going on or just practices going on.”

Being a full-time athletic trainer along with being a full-time student, Bates and Jaskolski put in double the hours.

“Last month I average 60 hours a week just at Concordia,” Bates said. “So, I suppose I put in about 80 hours a week.”

While athletes get some time to recover in the off-season, the athletic trainers rotate from one season to the next, working to keep all athletes at their best.

“It is like being in season from August until May,” Bates said. “Because you feel the pressure to get athletes back in the game all year long instead of during just one season.”

With some professions, people are able to leave their work at work and use their off-time to focus on other things. For Concordia’s athletic trainers that isn’t always the case.

“It is definitely not a nine to five job that you don’t go home and think about,” Bates said. “Kristen and I both go home and are like ‘oh we should do this with so-and-so and we could work on this with somebody.”

According to both Bates and Jaskolski they make their job somewhat of a 24/7 job.

“Your phone goes off and you are like ‘oh that’s an athlete — I need to go back to them right away,” Bates said. “You have to be 100 percent committed otherwise you’re not an athletic trainer. You’re not a good athletic trainer.”

Although they put in countless hours, according to Bates, Jaskolski and Vesta, it’s worth it.

“I love what I do. It’s probably the best part of my day,” Jaskolski said. “Every single day I know that I come in here and my athletes can make me feel better.”

Some athletic trainers may prefer to work at a Division I college, but for Bates, Jaskolski and Vesta, Division III or Division II is where the heart lies.

“I like the Division III level,” Vesta said. “I like Concordia athletes as a whole. They are just really good athletes to work with.”

While Jaskolski has not worked with Division I or Division II athletes, she knows that Division III athletes are the best to work with.

“They are more grounded,” Jaskolski said. “As in like ‘okay I’m not going to go pro. I’m not going to continue this sport after college.’ They are more willing to take care of the injury and get it looked at.”

Since athletes are more willing to come in and get their injuries looked at, the athletic trainers get the privilege of creating relationships with them and get to see the athletes recover, which is one of the best parts of the job.

“The most rewarding part is establishing relationships with the athletes,” Vesta said. “Seeing them get better and returning to their sports and do well.”

Sometimes, the simplest of things make the long hours in the training room worth it.

“Seeing that smile on my athlete’s face when they can finally compete without pain or a long injury that has taken time to heal,” Bates said. “They finally can go back on the field or court or whatever it is. That’s the most rewarding.”

While injuries and rehab are the main job, according to Jaskolski and Bates, their roles to the athletes are more than just the athlete’s trainer.

“You are there for everyone in every aspect,” Jaskolski said. “Yeah you deal with mainly injuries, but you get to know a lot about your athlete’s life and what is going on in their life and all their fun and exciting adventures.”

In some ways, they are the comfort the athlete needs to get through a season.

“We are mental, emotional and physical support no matter what,” Bates said. I think we become a little bit of a mom or dad away from home kind of. You never just deal with the injury, you deal with the whole athlete.”

According to Januschka, the athletic trainers at Concordia really do care about the athletes.

“I think the athletic trainers are great,” Januschka said. “They are super helpful and truly care about our wellbeing.”

So the next time you sit and watch Cobber athletes participate in the sports they love — remember, behind every good athlete, there is an even better athletic trainer.