Thursday, September 6, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 11


Unsung heroes labor in anonymity

By Stuart H. Clements
Daily Cougar Staff

You may never have heard of Mike O'Shea, John Houston or Pam Waller, but they are the leaders of UH's football training staff.

The training staff at UH is comprised of three full-time trainers, four graduate assistants, and a sliding number of student assistants. These upbeat
and excited Cougars love being athletic trainers.

An athletic trainer, according to the Sports Medicine Mission Statement, is an individual whose " primary mission is to provide high quality
medical coverage including prevention, recognition, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses to all student-athletes."

Rich R. Risma/The Daily Cougar

John Houston, associate athletic trainer, administers electrical muscle stimulation to track athlete Lindsay Cobbs.

Athletic trainers must have an Athletic Trainer's Certification and must be a Texas Licensed Athletic Trainer.

As head athletic trainer, O'Shea is the primary trainer for the football team. To maintain the safety of the team under the hot Texas sun, the trainers
take precautions to ensure every player stays hydrated.

"Heat is the biggest danger in these hot summer months," O'Shea said.

O'Shea's primary weapons against the heat are water and sports drinks. Both liquids are equally important in maintaining an acceptable level of
hydration both on and off the field. The players are responsible for hydrating their bodies as well.

During the hot summer practices, the football team consumes approximately 800 gallons of water and half a ton of ice per practice.

To avoid the possibility of spreading disease through the team, the players refrain from putting their mouths on the water bottles. The training staff
provides battery-operated drinking "cows" that squirt water mechanically.

The trainers take various precautions to avoid heatstroke among the players and coaches.

O'Shea and his assistants weigh each player before and after every practice. This helps determine how much fluid each player lost and allows the
staff to monitor the player's weight following practice.

A doctor attends every practice, ready to hydrate a player if one falls out in spite of these precautions. Maintaining the players' health remains a
trainer's No. 1 priority.

Being an athletic trainer is not easy. It requires long, hard hours. It is certainly not a normal "nine-to-five" job.

Houston said his squad arrives in the training room at 7 a.m. and remains on the job for approximately 12 hours.

Student-athletes come to the training room in the morning for treatment and then attend class.

Mornings can be more productive and fun for both the trainers and athletes because there is more individual time to be spent on the athletes,
Houston said.

More than 100 people enter the training room between 1 and 3 p.m. to prepare for their practice. The trainers must focus on every job in an efficient
and effective manner to meet the demands. More than 400 student-athletes must be given a physical each year when school starts.

Although the hours are long, all full-time staff trainers proclaim satisfaction with their jobs.

"Athletic training keeps you fun and young all through life because you're living and working with young people every day," O'Shea said.

The constant on-the-job experience working as a trainer is an advantage for a career in sports medicine.

"I get to work with outstanding players, coaches, and administrators," O'Shea said. "I have a great facility and live in a great city that has athletic
orientation. Truly, this is a fun job."

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