Athletic Trainers Making the Difference

By Christina Sainovich
Jambar Contributor

Sports injuries can happen anytime. When athletes get hurt, they turn to one person: their athletic trainer. 

At Youngstown State University, each sports team has an athletic trainer that attends every practice, every game and more. The baseball team suffered numerous injuries in the 2019 season, and the baseball athletic trainer was key in the rehabilitation process for the players.

Caitlin Kilcoyne, a graduate assistant athletic trainer, is in her second season with the Penguins. She helps the players with all of their treatments as well as rehabs. 

Photo by Brent Bigelow/The Jambar

“I usually get into the Stambaugh AT [athletic trainer] room at about 9 o’clock in the morning,” Kilcoyne said. “I’ll do treatments there, write rehabs in the morning, then usually head out to Eastwood Field around 12:30 or so. Then any post-practice treatment, getting the guys ice, scraping, cupping, anything that they need to do after that.”

In the summer of 2018, senior Zack Minney was playing summer ball and tore his UCL. He had surgery, and then Kilcoyne helped him begin the rehab process. 

“I was able to see from his surgery all the way on through his return to play, which hasn’t happened yet because we haven’t had any games yet,” Kilcoyne said.

Minney said that he spends two to three hours with Kilcoyne each day, rehabbing and getting treatment.

“She helps me because I am currently in a program where I have bullpen two times a week, and then all the other days in between I’ll just have a light toss, and so she’ll just be out moderating me, making sure I’m not going too hard, making sure my motion is all correct, everything like that,” Minney said.

The men’s basketball team was fortunate to deal with few injuries throughout its season, but its athletic trainer Todd Burkey is busy as ever.

“My main job is the prevention and care of athletic injuries,” Burkey said. “I’ll come in and do prepractice treatment. I’ll run the lifting program for men’s basketball, then cover practice. We’re at every practice, we’re at every game.”

Burkey said that his job is more than just dealing with injuries. He values the relationships that he has built with the student-athletes. 

“The interaction that you can have with them,” Burkey said. “The time you take with them, the mentoring that you can do for them, the medical care that you can provide for them, and then seeing the outcomes. Without a question, it’s the relationships that you build with the athletes, with the coaches. … So that’s without question the best part of the job.”

Sophomore Justin Bofenkamp pulled his hamstring over the summer and was grateful for the help he received from Burkey. 

“He kind of spread out the recovery process and really gave me time to restrengthen it and gave me time to get back over 100 perfect,” Bofenkamp said. 

Burkey also spends time before, during and after practices with all of the players on his team. 

“Burkey, you know he’s pretty influential to our team,” Bofenkamp said. “At first, he’s going to tape you before practice,” he said. “He’s checking on you all throughout practice. … And then after practice he’s going to work on you.”

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