The Maryville College Athletic Training Staff (MCAT) has been diligently working behind the scenes to help athletes, coaches, and teams return to play-despite the pressures and challenges of playing and living amidst a global pandemic.
“Athletic trainers are some of the most overlooked employees on campus and that’s not just in COVID times,” said Sara Quatrocky, the interim athletics director at MC. “I don’t think people outside of Athletics realize how many hours that they put in and the commitment that they have to students the health and safety of our students is in their hands every day.”
Athletic Trainers are licensed health care professionals who specialize in injury/illness prevention, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, and rehabilitation of injuries. In other words, they play an integral role in the life of every student athlete that comes through Maryville College. They are often the first people that an athlete calls when something is wrong. Situations can vary from a hamstring pull to a nagging injury to a positive COVID-19 test and anything in between.
“The athletic trainers here at MC are more than just trainers,” said Emilie Guigou, a junior on the women’s soccer team “I am blessed to have both an athletic trainer and a friend in each and every one of them. Throughout my time here, they have been a support system both on and off the field. They are a constant and consistent force pushing us to be the best version of who we can be as student athletes. My time here at Maryville wouldn’t be the same without them.”
This is the first year that Jenny Massey and Taylor Wilkes have served as assistant athletic trainers at MC. Massey spent the previous nine years as the head athletic trainer at Farragut High School in Knoxville. She graduated from Tusculum College in 2009. Wilkes holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree from Northwestern State University of Louisiana.
Sheena Lucas joined the College’s Athletic Training staff as an assistant athletic trainer in 2015. Lucas is a 2012 graduate of Berry College; after graduation she earned her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2014.
Ryan Greer has been on the staff for three years. He was promoted to the director of athletic training in 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Mount St. Joseph and a master’s degree from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals in Provo, Utah.
After it was announced that fall sports competition would be moved to the spring, Quatrocky, the MCAT, and other Maryville College decision makers planned a way to efficiently and effectively have a loaded spring schedule that abided by all the protocols set by the NCAA and the USA South Conference. COVID-19 testing has been one of the most extensive tasks that has been added to daily operations. Because they would essentially be exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis, each trainer received the vaccine.
“Typically, my staff and I see athletes by appointment throughout the day for evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries,” Greer said. “We also attend practices and competitions. However, COVID-19 has really changed our daily operations. During COVID-19 times, we also schedule COVID-19 testing throughout the day and we administer those tests weekly. We spend a lot of time preparing and administering COVID-19 tests and a lot more goes into testing than just administering the test itself.”
Greer said that the athletes contact his staff daily to report symptoms. As a result, he and the staff are in constant communication with athletes and campus staff. Additionally, the training staff transformed a classroom into a second athletic training facility so that everyone could spread out more. Social distancing and cleaning protocols have also been increased.
“They really are the heartbeat of what we’re doing,” Quatrocky said. “Nobody ever loves taking on a lot of work but the four of them have taken it on because they know that it helps the students and it’s our ticket to play and get our students back on the field. I don’t know how we would be doing this, let alone me being able to manage all of this, without them. I’m grateful that they have been the ultimate team players in the whole process.”
This semester has seen its hiccups and setbacks, but overall teams have been able to practice and compete. Each trainer said that hard work and preparation is what has enabled everyone to continue to do what they love. Each team has had to adjust operations, follow protocols, and consistently sacrifice in order to keep their respective seasons going.
“A lot of people have had to make a lot of sacrifices for the athletic season to be possible and it wouldn’t be happening without teamwork,” Greer said. “It is very rewarding to see athletes get to do what they love. Watching our athletes compete makes all the long days and extra work worth it.”