Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Training staff working behind scenes to make teams successful

Behind the championships, the hard-fought wins, the crushing defeats, the athletes and the coaches, there are the athletic trainers, rearranging their own lives at the drop of a hat to be with their assigned team.

Plattsburgh State employs four athletic trainers to care for its 17 varsity athletic teams, each one falling into the profession either by accident or because of accidents. Assistant athletic trainer Georgia Woodworth is a product of the latter.

“I was a very accident-prone but active person, so I always spent a lot of time in high school with the athletic trainer,” Woodworth said. “It was interesting. I didn’t want to do the whole doctor side of medicine, but I liked how this incorporated medicine and sports.”

Woodworth studied athletic training at the University of Vermont. Post-graduation, she applied to many places before receiving help from an unlikely source; Woodworth’s high school Spanish teacher found and sent her the PSUC job application. Woodworth got the job and took care of the women’s hockey team as they won back-to-back national championships.

Head athletic trainer Jason Pachter and assistant athletic trainers Lisa Vicencio and Kenta Miyazaki entered the field of athletic training by chance. Vicencio’s path most closely resembled athletic training, as she started out in physical therapy. On the opposite end of the spectrum are Pachter and Miyazaki, who began undergraduate studies with majors in accounting and sociology, respectively.

“I was a Japanese undergrad student majoring in sociology, not athletic training, but I wanted to be involved in the sports world,” Miyazaki said. “
One day I went to a bookstore. I was looking at some magazines, sports magazines.”

Inside one of those magazines was a National Athletic Trainers’ Association article about athletic training. Miyazaki described it as a “life-changing moment.” He transferred schools in Japan to study sports science before coming to the United States for a master’s in athletic training.

Pachter’s interest in the field started in a human performance lab at Southern Connecticut State. A member of the football team, he had to go through testing, and the process ultimately lead to his transferring to Hudson Valley Community College, where his career began. The variety of athletic training seems to be a big positive.

“Every day is different, every season is different,” Pachter said. “It’s long days. You never know who’s coming in, so it’s always different, which makes it interesting.”

Joining Pachter in the unpredictable world of athletic training was Vicencio, who started as a physical therapist in a clinic. The clinic wanted an athletic trainer on staff, so it paid for the necessary coursework. While completing the work, Vicencio took on a job as head volleyball coach and assistant athletic trainer at PSUC. When a change in administration at the clinic decided an athletic trainer providing physical therapy services didn’t make sense, she stayed at the college with no regrets.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world at this point because you deal with the injury from when it happens and work with it all the way through,” Vicencio said. “You become part of the teams. You are actually able to build bonds with the student-athletes.”

While each PSUC athletic trainer took varying routes to the profession, all agreed time demands are the toughest part.
“It’s a lot of hard work and crazy hours,” Woodworth said. “Nothing is set in stone until the last second.”

Despite the challenging hours and unpredictability, the athletic trainers love what they do. From watching the students grow as athletes to working through an injury, the rewards appear endless.

“I think our coaches do a great job of bringing in student-athletes that are great people,” Vicencio said “It’s rewarding when someone comes back and gives you a thank you-note, or you see the rehab process pay off.”

Email Jess Huber at jess.huber@cardinal pointsonline.com

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