Unsung heroes labor in
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
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
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
Rich R. Risma/The Daily
John Houston, associate athletic
trainer, administers electrical muscle stimulation to track athlete Lindsay
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
"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
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
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"
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,
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
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."