Rip, wrap and repeat. Senior Chris Wieland has taped so many ankles in his three years as a student athletic trainer, it has become second nature.
Wieland is part of an elite group of 10 to 12 students who get chosen each year to participate in the training program.
“We had over 100 applicants for 10-12 spots this year,” said Reese Barber, the Athletic Training Education program director. “Having been here for 15 years, the number of applications has grown exponentially”.
Accompanied by four professional supervisors, the students are assigned to cover two teams per year, but are only allowed to travel if joined by a certified trainer.
“The kids must have experience with men and women, upper body dominant sports like softball or baseball and lower body sports such as soccer or cross country,” Barber said. “We also try to have everybody work a semester with a collision sport like football or hockey.”
And Barber did warn them ahead of time about the amount of time and dedication needed out of the classroom in order to graduate.
“Everyone must complete 1,500 hours outside of school. They need to be a part of the conditioning, nutrition and orthopedic aspects of the teams as well. It’s not a career, it’s a lifestyle,” Barber said.
Wieland has worked with softball, women’s lacrosse and men’s basketball and was adamant about how important the 1500 hours is.
“The observation hours are really where you learn the most. You can only get so much from the books without seeing it live and in person,” Wieland said.
Watching him systematically tape her ankle was Mariah Lesure, sophomore midfielder on the Castleton women’s lacrosse team. She was getting ready for a game against RPI as she usually does; getting both ankles taped.
“The guys do a great job here. I get both ankles taped before every game and I always feel comfortable during games,” Lesure said, while leaning back on the trainer’s table surrounded by ice bags, stimulation machines and cold baths.
There are six tables in the middle of the training room and the stench of sweat and heat filled the air.
The program director added a bit of advice to future students and even current ones looking for it.
“It’s not a 9 to 5 job, but each game is new and different,” Barber said. “You have to be ready for anything and everything.”