College and University

Arizona Athletic Trainer Keeps Calm Amongst Chaos


Article reposted from The Daily Wildcat
Author: Saul Bookman

The NCAA Tournament is unforgiving, one play can decide your fate. Such could have been the case for the Arizona Wildcats in the second round of the men’s basketball West Region as guard Rawle Alkins dislocated his finger.

Cue Justin Kokoskie, long time trainer and one who is familiar with the panic that can set in when a star player goes down, sitting there staring at a finger that is going the opposite direction from the way it is meant to go.

Midway through the first half of Arizona’s 69-60 win over Saint Mary’s, Alkins went up for a rebound and then came down hunching over in pain. The Wildcats, who were trailing in the game already, were looking down at the snake as it dug its fangs into the legs of a promising season as Alkins walked off the court. However, sometimes there is a remedy and when the proper approach is taken, you can remove the problem, cure it and move on, just as Arizona did Saturday night.

For fans at home, the feeling of watching a player so important to the team go down can cause a tremendous amount of worry, but for Kokoskie, this is what he gets paid for. In the midst of all the chaos going on around him, from the bench, to the fans, to the game itself, Kokoskie had to find his quiet space and properly evaluate the freshman from Brooklyn.

“It’s a little easier because when you’re out on the court you have tons of people overseeing it, even trying to micro-manage it,” Kokoskie said. “When you get him here [locker room] its isolated, you get a good thorough eval on him and take it from there.”

It becomes a game of don’t rush, but hurry. He evaluated Alkins and provided an X-ray, realizing it was a slight fracture from the dislocation and then allowed Alkins to go back in the game. It is a delicate balance of making sure no further risk is in place, but also getting the player evaluated quickly enough to get him back on the court in a timely manner. Every case is different, every case requires a variance in attentiveness than another. Having a set of guidelines is the reason measures are taken to alleviate any panic that may set in, in this case, a call to action in the most important game of the season.

“It just comes down to certain protocol you follow right away, just get going with it,” Kokoskie said. “Evaluate the injury, what’s the next step, do we need X-rays, do we need to consult a doctor on it, then you take it from there.”

Kokoskie’s efforts got Alkins back on the court where he was able to play an instrumental role in Saturday’s victory. Alkins finished the game and helped his team get back to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in five seasons. The Wildcats head to San Jose to take on Xavier on Thursday.


Tucson Native Hired On as Arizona Gymcats Athletic Trainer


Article reposted from
Author: Arizon Athletics

The University of Arizona announced Friday, June 30, 2016 the addition of Samantha (Sam) Yeoman of Tucson as the GymCats’ new athletic trainer.

“We could not be more excited to welcome Sam to the GymCat family,” said Yim. “Sam has demonstrated her experience, knowledge, and passion over the years, and she shares the values that make our program and university special. We know she will be an incredible addition to our staff and are thrilled to have her working with our scholar-athletes.”

Yeoman attended Sahuaro High School before enrolling at the University of Arizona where she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Physiology. She earned her master’s from Shenandoah University in athletic training.

Before being hired at Arizona, Yeoman was an athletic trainer at Casa Grande Union High School in 2013, at Campus Health Services at the University of Arizona as well as an athletic trainer for the UA School of Dance – one of the highest ranked programs in the United States and England – from 2014-2016.

“Being a Tucson-native, I have grown up around the University of Arizona,” said Yeoman. “I am thrilled to be continuing the next chapter of my career.  I am excited for the new challenges of working in athletics and joining the GymCat family!”

For continued coverage of Arizona Gymnastics, follow the team at and on Twitter @AZGymnastics.

*The GymCats’ previous trainer of three years, Stephanie Gross, is now attending PA school at University Mount Union.

Amateur Sports

Arizona Athletic Trainer Achieves His Own Olympic Dream


Article reposted from UANews
Author: Doug Carroll

Dustin Williams speaks the universal language of athletes.

It’s not just that he has completed 10 marathons and a triathlon, nor that he is married to Jill Camarena-Williams, who has a chance to make this year’s U.S. Olympic track and field team. It’s not even that he has been around the world, having worked events in Berlin, Beijing, South Korea, Poland and other far-off locations.

It’s this: He knows what the demands of long-term training involve for athletes, because he has made that kind of all-in investment in his own career. You have to love it, or else you couldn’t do it.

“The drive and the passion they have, they put everything into it,” says Williams, an associate athletic trainer at the University of Arizona since 2011. “They sacrifice everything. I enjoy being a little piece of that puzzle. The gratitude they give back makes my job worth it.”

An athlete’s diligence and perseverance has brought Williams, 38, to what is arguably the grandest stage in all of sports: the Olympic Games, which will begin in a little more than a month in Rio de Janeiro. He will serve as the head athletic trainer for the U.S. track and field team, the largest contingent of American athletes with about 130 men and women.

His appointment was made official in the spring by the U.S. Olympic Committee, and this weekend he will be in Eugene, Oregon, for the start of the Olympic Trials, the 10-day competition that decides who will be on the U.S. team in Brazil. His wife, whose Olympic bid in 2012 was hampered by injury, will compete in Eugene in the shot put.

Williams, who came to the UA after five years as an athletic trainer at Brigham Young University, has worked his way up the ranks, handling a variety of international assignments over the past several years. Those have been in addition to his regular job as head trainer for the UA cross country and track and field teams.

Although his expenses will be covered by the USOC at the Trials and the Games, Williams won’t be paid — and it’s that way for everyone on the U.S. medical staff of 13, which includes trainers, physicians, massage therapists, chiropractors and psychologists.

“When the Games start, it’s put your head down and go,” he says of the long days and nights that await the staff.

Williams worked the London Olympic Games in 2012, and that experience has helped prepare him for Rio. In London, he already was being groomed by Jack Ransone, his predecessor as head athletic trainer, to take over.

“I saw early during national team events that Dustin possessed a caring spirit and a personality that easily engages athletes,” says Ransone, now director of the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory at the University of Nebraska. “Those attributes, as well as his broad clinical skill set, made him seamlessly transition into a leadership role within USA Track and Field.”

Although the stage won’t be too big for Williams, he knows his role in the cast.

“This gives me an opportunity to represent the University of Arizona, to take my skill set (to Rio) and be able to help. I’m excited about it,” he says.

“I won’t be on TV, and I’m OK with that. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of guy.”

College and UniversityNATM2016

Celebrating NATM With GymCat Athletic Trainer Stephanie Gross


Division 1 athletics requires student-athletes to be at their best mentally, physically and emotionally. Achieving and maintaining this type of balance is no easy feat, and the GymCats are grateful for their athletic trainer, Stephanie Gross, who plays an integral role in keeping student-athletes happy, healthy and strong year-round.

Gross joined the Arizona athletic training staff in 2013, and serves as an athletic trainer for not just the GymCats, but the swimming and diving teams as well.

Gross was born in Evanston, Ill., and grew up in Lake Zurich, Ill. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. She then attended The Ohio State Universtiy where she obtained a Masters in Sport Management while working as a graduate assistant for the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams.

Athletic trainers are mostly recognized for their efforts in the rehabilitation of athletes from injuries. However, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. Athletic trainers must have a holistic approach to their treatments that target vulnerabilities and specific muscles to prevent injuries before they happen.

“It goes so much further than just being an athletic trainer. I’m emotionally invested in these athletes’ success, both in and out of the gym. We bond over time spent rehabbing injuries, but we also celebrate every small victory along the way. There’s no better feeling than seeing an injured athlete return to the sport that they love with more success than they ever imagined possible.”

In honor of National Athletic Training Month, which takes place in March each year, we decided to take a behind the scenes look at the responsibilities and daily life of the GymCats’ athletic trainer.


Athletic trainer- health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions

Scraping- soft tissue treatment assisted by an instrument to remove muscle soreness and scar tissue

Cupping therapy- using a suction cup to draw up skin to bring fresh blood to the sore area of body

Rehabilitation- restoring health after an injury

Therapeutic intervention- prevent and reduce injury

Soft tissue therapy- manipulation of soft tissues like muscles and ligaments, to alleviate discomfort

Cryo therapy- therapy using subzero temperatures

Hyrdrotherapy- therapy using water such as hot or cold tubbing

Administrative duties- attending Pac-12 medical conferences, representing the team and school at conferences, overseeing health insurance of student-athletes, coordinate appointments, coordinate X-Rays and MRI’s, documenting every treatment for each athlete



Practice Day

6:30 a.m. – Wake up

8:30 a.m. – Arrive at McKale

9 a.m. – Rehab begins

1 p.m. – Pre-practice taping

2 p.m. – Rehab ends

2:15 p.m. – Practice time

5:15 p.m. – Practice ends and eight lifting activities begin. Oversee and modify lifting activities with the strength coach for injured athletes

6 p.m. – Post practice treatments

6:30 p.m.  – Team dinner

7:30 p.m.  – Home

10 p.m. – In bed ready for the next day


College and University

“The best basketball athletic trainer on any level”


Scooby Wright III, Kaleb Tarczewski, Ray Smith, Derrick Turituri, Nick Wilson, Anu Solomon, Jake Matthews, Freddie Tagaloa, Elliot Pitts, Ryan Anderson, Tyrell Johnson, Trey Griffey, Jacob Alsadek. Do you get the picture?

This is a list of both Arizona men’s basketball and football players who have missed time this season due to injuries, and I’m probably not even close to naming all of them.

Those aren’t the only names or sports either; look at Arizona volleyball, for instance.

The Wildcats are about to enter NCAA Tournament play against Western Kentucky and may very well be without two starters in Kalei Mau and McKenna Painton.

At the beginning of the season, Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts praised the fact she has a full bench to work with this season after so many injuries over the past couple years.

The injury bug, as many call it, has inundated the Wildcats’ system for some unknown reason. The year of injuries has plagued Arizona sports as a whole. There is no cause or reason, just a next-man-or-woman-up philosophy.

“The Arizona athletic department training staff better get a raise after this fall,” Ezra Amacher, Daily Wildcat sports reporter, wrote on Twitter.

Of course they should.

There are about 12,500 injuries per year in collegiate sports, according to the NCAA and Livestrong.

Arizona football’s schedule of 12 straight games could, in large part, have something to do with the surplus of injuries.

“I’ve complained about [our schedule] a bunch, and we’re not getting healthier, so that’s not helping,” Rodriguez said in a press release in October. “We’ve got to figure out a balance of having enough time to get ready and making sure our guys are fresh and ready to play the game.”

Basketball head coach Sean Miller also acknowledged his own share of injuries early in the season, and even before the season started, in his press conference Thursday.

“Going into early October, we’ve had, I think seven sprained ankles,” Miller said. “In three or four years, I don’t think we’ve had seven [total]. We’ve had guys that missed five days, seven days. Kadeem Allen separated his shoulder very, very early on. … Elliott Pitts, we thought tore his MCL, but didn’t, … but he sprained it. … Ryan Anderson has not practiced in two weeks.”

Luckily for the Arizona men’s basketball team, 13-year athletic trainer Justin Kokoskie is one of the best in the business. Miller has constantly praised him for his work with the team and has even hired Kokoskie to assist with the USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team, which Miller also coaches.

Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton even called Kokoskie “the best basketball athletic trainer on any level,” according to Arizona Athletics.

Unfortunately, Kokoskie wasn’t able to assist Tarczewski when he suffered his stress reaction and strained muscle in his left foot at the DirecTV Wooden Legacy. Kokoskie missed the game as his wife was giving birth to their third child, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

It was ironically the first game or practice that Kokoskie had missed in 15 years. Perhaps it was this unlucky coincidence that led to the fall of Zeus, but your guess is as good as mine.

“The team will be fine,” Kokoskie wrote via text message to the Daily Star. “We have the best sports medicine staff in the country. They have it covered. Tough watching these games on TV, but my family needs me this weekend.”

The “best sports medicine staff in the country” is an understatement, especially with the stockpile of injuries—that is still accumulating—the staff has dealt with this fall.

In the mean time, it’s time to get some Wildcats healthy.


College and University

Arizona Athletic Trainer Misses first game in 15 years


Streak over

When Kaleb Tarczewski’s ankle sprain kept him out Saturday against Providence, that snapped a streak of 68 straight games he’s played in for the Wildcats.

The last time Zeus was out was on Dec. 23, 2013 against Northern Arizona, the second game he missed because of a right ankle sprain suffered at Michigan nine days earlier.

The injury also threatens to delay Tarczewski’s climb up the chart of players who have been a part of the most UA wins in school history. He was a part of 97 wins through Thursday’s game against Santa Clara.

Another busted streak

Meanwhile, UA athletic trainer Justin Kokoskie just lost what may have been the biggest under-the-radar streak going in Wildcats basketball: He went 15 years without a single missed game or practice.

There was a pretty good reason that streak ended.

Kokoskie’s wife, Katie, gave birth to the couple’s third child, Lucy Kay Kokoskie, pulling dad home for the weekend. Subbing for Kokoskie was UA trainer Doug Cantaoi, who normally works with the women’s basketball and men’s tennis teams. Dr. Don Porter, the Cats’ team doc, also attended.

“The team will be fine,” Kokoskie said via text message. “We have the best sports medicine staff in the country. They have it covered. … Tough watching these games on TV but my family needs me this weekend.”

Kokoskie said he planned to make UA’s trip to Gonzaga next weekend.


College and University

University of Arizona Athletic Trainers Keep the Wildcats healthy


Arizona’s traveling squad to Stanford will include six trainers and two doctors, or roughly one medical attendant for every seven players.

After the unusually high number of injuries incurred by UA football players this season, you wonder: Is that enough? Only six trainers?

These questions do not make Randy Cohen smile or even change expressions.

“Everybody’s beat up in college football,” he said after arriving at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday for the UA’s rare morning practice. “The question is: Are you missing (game) time?”

Cohen is the UA’s associate athletic director for medical services, a Purdue grad who is chair of the NCAA athletic trainers’ committee. He looks at college football much differently than the guy in Row 23, Seat 14.

“Probably the No. 1 factor of teams that win championships, across the board, is that their starters play all season,” he said. “It used to be that we’d patch them up and they’d hobble out there and push through it. You had guys gimping around all the time. Most of that has changed.

“I also think the kids are a little more conservative with their bodies. They see the long-term consequences; they’re worried about what happens down the line. They don’t rush it.”

In 1993, the height of the Desert Swarm years, Arizona’s defensive regulars started 130 of 132 possible games. In Arizona’s historic 12-1 season, 1998, the UA’s regulars started 145 of a possible 156 games.

Already this season, the Wildcats have used 18 different defensive starters. Incredibly, only 15 defensive players started for Arizona during the 2014 Pac-12 South championship season.

Now the team’s two most essential players, quarterback Anu Solomon and linebacker Scooby Wright, are injured. I strongly suspect Wright won’t play again in 2015. He has a foot injury. Solomon suffered a concussion against UCLA and is officially “day-to-day.” The UA’s injury report will be released around noon Thursday.

“We’ll play with 11,” Rich Rodriguez said Wednesday morning. “The injury thing is what it is.”

Here’s how important “the injury thing” can be:

In 2013, Arizona was 5-2 as it traveled to Cal for a game against the then-woeful Bears, who finished the season 1-11. In the days leading up to the game, Cohen treated 35 players for various injuries and placed 23 on limited or no practice availability.

Thus diminished, Arizona hung on to beat Cal 33-28 in a game not decided until an onside kick with 2:14 remaining, It was Cal’s only competitive Pac-12 game of the season.

“I don’t necessarily think there are more injuries now than previously; perhaps this is just cyclical for us,” said Cohen. “But I do know there is more news about injuries than ever. Every time you look at the ticker on the bottom of the TV screen, it’s filled with news of those who are injured. If a guy’s walking around with a boot on his foot, boom, it’s on Twitter.”

If the UA is fortunate, it will never match its 1991 season for injuries. In what was Dick Tomey’s only losing season between 1987-2000, the Wildcats started four right tackles, four tight ends, four nose guards, six outside linebackers and three quarterbacks, including, ironically enough, walk-on QB Billy Prickett, now Dr. William Prickett, one of the team physicians in Cohen’s network of medical services.

The Wildcats went 4-7. Because of injuries, Mu Tagoai started games at right tackle, right guard, left guard and tight end.

“There is some data from a 2-year-old NFL study that shows there are more foot sprains and more bad ankle sprains since the advent of field turf,” said Cohen. “It’s not a huge number, but there has been a spike of more foot-related injuries because there’s not as much give on field turf as there is on grass.”

 UCLA lost three defensive starters in September, all potential NFL players. But the Bruins are deep enough to keep winning. Arizona? Probably not.

College football has changed significantly from 1991 when Tagoai gamely played unfamiliar positions from week to week. Today, an out-of-position — or gimpy — player is considered a significant liability.

“If a player chooses to play through the pain and limps out there, opposing coaches expose it immediately,” said Cohen. “The game’s so fast, so technical, that you can’t have a guy out there who’s 80 percent. Opposing coaches find your weak link. The dynamics have changed.”

Every Pac-12 school has world-class training facilities for football. Since Cohen arrived in 2001, Arizona’s football training staff has gone from 1½  full-time employees to six. The spacious training room at Lowell-Stevens Football Facility has 12 treatment tables, hot tubs, cold tubs, every imaginable treatment and injury-prevention device. On most days in football season, Cohen and his staff are on duty from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Game time is 1 p.m. each Sunday when Cohen supplies RichRod with an update and treatment schedule of the team’s injured players. Many weeks the list exceeds 30 players.

This week it includes Scooby and Solomon.