Fairfield Minuteman: SHU-Staples Athletic Training Connection a Win-Win Opportunity

News Story: January 1, 2009

Reprinted from and first appeared in the Fairfield Minuteman

By Andy Hutchison

Staples High School football player Tyler Healy, right, is examined by Staples trainer and SHU alumna Erin Guertin, left,
and SHU intern Sarah Weyer. 
Photo by Andy Hutchison

With sports comes some contact (by rule and sometimes by foul), wear and tear on the body and, of course, injuries. And when there are injuries there is a need for people — athletic trainers specifically — who specialize in treating everything from minor bumps and bruises to sprains and strains ... the list goes on.

Sacred Heart University students working toward careers in athletic training have a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience not far from their campus. A relationship with Westport's Staples High School enables the athletic training majors to not only witness the day to day work of professional trainers, but also be a part of the action along the sidelines and in the training rooms, as part of internships each school year.

"You see everything from a bruise or a scrape, or a blister, to a transient quadriplegia and concussions — you name it, from head to toe," said Gaetano Deiso, ATC, LAT, one of the trainers at Staples High.

Deiso (who went to Springfield College and studied athletic training and nutrition) and fellow trainer Erin Guertin (who happens to be a Sacred Heart alumna) work full time with the Staples athletics teams. They tend to the many needs of high school student-athletes. They are assisted by Sacred Heart interns who gain valuable experience, all the while helping to keep things going smoothly for the many high school athletes.

Deiso said the college student interns get a lot of hands-on training because there is plenty of work to do given the number of teams at Staples. They see 40-or-so athletes on any given day. Some of the treatment is preventative (taping, massaging and stretching for example) and sometimes it is for an unexpected but anticipated injury sustained in a game or practice.

On top of helping out with wrapping shoulders and ankles, applying ice, putting on splints and offering some moral support to the young athletes, the interns get to watch the games and be in an environment in which they are comfortable.

"I really enjoy it. It's a good atmosphere," said Amanda Greco, a senior at SHU, who interned at Staples throughout this past fall season.

"I've always played sports and been active all my life. I've always been drawn to athletic medical fields," added Sarah Weyer, another SHU senior. "I love it."

During the fall season, Deiso and Guertin split up for games and practices and, with help from their SHU interns, made a presence at the many sporting events — from soccer to football. All hands were on deck for football games because of the physical nature of the sport.

"Going into college, you don't realize how much the athletic trainer does," Weyer said. "You don't realize how broad the scope of practice really is."

The high school athletes visit the training room for ultra sounds, massages and, of course, bags of ice and injury-preventative tapings. Deiso said the trainers provide support, per doctor's orders, for physical therapy. The worst of the injuries include ruptured spleens and shoulder dislocations, she added.

If there was ever a question about sports just being fun and games, athletic trainers and students getting their feet wet in the career field know that is not the case. Working in sports in this capacity allows the former athletes to stay involved with the games they love and have a positive impact on the young players.

"Even though I'm coming to work everyday it doesn't feel like work," Guertin said.