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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Unsung heroes


A look inside the job of St. Joe’s athletic trainers

Head Athletic Trainer Bill Lukasiewicz did not consider becoming an athletic trainer until after graduating from college. Originally a biology major, he worked in that field for two years and then decided to master in sports medicine at Temple University.

Lukasiewicz spent four years afterwards learning the basics of the job as an intern before he became a fuathletic trainer at Providence College in Rhode Island. From there, he moved on to Cabrini University in Radnor. After five more years working in a physical therapy clinic, Lukasiewicz came to SJU and has been here since.

Lukasiewicz now works primarily with the SJU men’s basketball team. While there is a routine that is generally followed, for Lukasiewicz, there is not a truly difficult day.

The team usually practices two days prior to a game, so practices for a game scheduled on a Saturday will begin on Thursday, giving the team a day off on Sunday. Before practice, Lukasiewicz will administer pre-practice treatment, which typically consists of taping joints and prepping the muscles for intense activity.

This past season was an especially rough one for injuries in men’s basketball.

“[This past season was] the worst out of my 18 years here, with the amount of injuries; definitely the worst,” Lukasiewicz said.

In contrast to most years, which normally include at least one season-ending injury, this season, the men’s basketball team suffered five significant ones, four of those requiring surgical treatment (two knees, one shoulder and a foot).

Because of the amount of force on the player’s knees, Lukasiewicz explained, the most common injury he sees with the basketball team is patellar tendinitis, colloquially named “jumper’s knee.” But all sorts of injuries happen almost every day, so rehabilitation treatment is a big part of the job.

The job of the athletic trainer during a game is to evaluate a player’s injuries and refer that player as needed, according to Lukasiewicz.

An hour or so before the game, Lukasiewicz administers the typical pre-practice treatments: taping, stretching, etc. Once the game starts, he heads to the sidelines and watches the game.

If an injury occurs during the game, Lukasiewicz will remove the player from the court and bring him to the training room, where he will be evaluated by the athletic training staff.

“Sometimes [the injury is] very simple, and you can turn them right back to the game,” Lukasiewicz said. “Sometimes it’s more complicated and the physician gets involved and sends him off for diagnostic testing.”

The worst injury Lukasiewicz has seen occurred during a St. Joe’s  basketball game, when a player was briefly knocked unconscious. Fortunately, the athlete awoke after about 30 seconds. But those 30 seconds were extremely stressful, according to Lukasiewicz, especially since head and neck trauma are rare in basketball.

Between practices and games, a major part of the athletic trainer’s responsibility is advocating for the student athletes; for example, scheduling an athlete’s doctor’s appointments to ensure he or she is healthy.

“It’s not 9 to 5, that’s for sure,” Lukasiewicz said.

Assistant Athletic Trainer Nathan Miller has worked with both the St. Joe’s women’s field hockey team and the St. Joe’s men’s lacrosse team since fall 2016.

Miller’s typical day begins with supervising an early morning lift session, which generally runs from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Once the session is over, he spends about two hours covering the athletic training room and helping whoever comes in.

At 11:30 a.m., about an hour before practice, players come in for pre-practice treatments. These treatments consist of therapeutic modalities, like taping joints for stability (especially ankles, in the case of men’s lacrosse and women’s field hockey), compression and heat treatments, stretching muscles, and administering rehabilitation treatments if necessary. Miller also makes sure the team has enough water to last them through practice.

If a player feels sick, he or she would need to check in during this time before practice so the trainer could determine whether the player should participate in practice or go back home.

Practice begins at about 12:30 p.m. and runs for two to three hours.

“[It] gets pretty busy,” said Miller.

After practice ends, Miller administers post-practice treatments, which depending on the athlete, may consist of more rehabilitation treatments, ice for injuries (including an ice bath if necessary), electrical muscle stimulation or other modalities, treating a lingering issue the athlete may be struggling with, or just preparation for the next day.

A player requiring more extensive rehab treatment will stay after the others have left, normally until 3 or 4 p.m. Once every athlete has left the training room, it is time for Miller to pack up and call it a day.

“The good thing about the job is that I love collegiate athletics,” Miller said. “I was going to play collegiate athletics, but due to injury I wasn’t able to, so it kind of keeps [me] involved in a different sense.”

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