Training Rooms: Helping student athletes do what they love


As some students dread to go to the training room, for fear of being told they can’t play, other students reflect on the helpfulness of the staff.

Many Franciscan University students who are involved in the athletics here on campus dread the waiting room, in fear that if they come with an injury to the trainers, they won’t be cleared to play their game. But while that intimidating factor may remain, it lessens after the first visit and encounter with the trainers.

Jarek Sulak, a junior theology and philosophy major, said when he first began playing tennis freshman year, he was hesitant to go to the training room even for ice, for fear they would pull him from playing. But after a wrist surgery, he decided to do rehab with the trainers during the fall of his junior year and has had a very positive experience overall.

“They’ve been nothing but proper with me, wanting me to play, and trying to make sure I’m healthy enough to go out there,” said Sulak.

Sulak said he believes the problem comes from the phenomenon that when someone has a negative experience in the training room, it can trickle down to the rest of the team, causing incoming freshman especially to be afraid of going to the training room.

“I think a lot of athletes are kind of terrified to go into the training room, because they have a reputation for not clearing athletes, or it takes forever,” said Sulak. “(But) they have been nothing but helpful getting me to play.”

Sulak said if there was one aspect he would like to see improve, it would be the number of athletic trainers.

“I wish that they had more athletic trainers,” said Sulak. “That way, you could work more one-on-one with the athletic trainer.”

As of right now, there are two certified athletic trainers and 13 sports medicine assistants in the training room helping student athletes.

Emma Mooney, a senior biology major, has been working as a sports medicine assistant since freshman year, and said her favorite aspect has been working with the student athletes.

“You get to know the athletes really well,” said Mooney. “We want a positive experience, so we make it a point to talk to them and get to know them.”

Mooney said she recognizes the fear and hesitation students have with coming to the training room, so she tries to be as welcoming and helpful as possible.

“A lot of times, people feel like if they come in, they can’t play,” said Mooney. “I think a lot of times people don’t understand that if they can’t play, it’s not because we don’t want them to play, they actually can’t.”

Maggie Vander Woude, a junior, said she has never had a problem going into the training room, even for some ice, because she found the environment so welcoming, but recognizes that it can be intimidating for some student athletes.

“I think it depends on each person and their individual experience,” said Vander Woude.

Kelly Gaughan, the head athletic trainer, said she can definitely sympathize with the students who have a hard time coming for fear of being told they can’t play.

“It can be very hard to sustaining an injury,” said Gaughan, “and being taken away from your team. It’s something you become very invested in, it’s part of your identity being part of that team. It can be very frustrating, (so) we do what we can to get them back quickly.”

Gaughan added, “But nothing can be quick enough, you want to get back to what you love. I respect the student athlete that wants to get back out there and try again.”

Gaughan said many problems would be fixed if the student athlete would address the problem right away, rather than waiting until the injury becomes worse.

“It puts us in a tough spot,” said Gaughan. “It puts us in a position where we have to tell the student they can’t play on it.”

Gaughan said this is where many of the negative experiences happen with student athletes. However, there are many teams that set a good example with upperclassmen coming in to get injuries checked out right away.

Right now, it is just Gaughan and Sarah Albaugh as the two athletic trainers. Gaughan said she hopes to see more trainers eventually, but that will be in the future.

“It would be nice to have bigger numbers so trainers could be at the practices,” said Gaughan. “The amount of hands on care for the student athletes would increase. I am hopeful that we will move in that direction.”

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