Newman University Athletics compete at the NCAA Division II level, which requires talented coaches, disciplined athletes and a driven athletic department. However, there is one aspect of collegiate athletics that tends to get overlooked: sports medicine.
The Jets have two physical trainers from Via Christi Health on staff: Terra Macklin and Cam Clark. Also, Kelsey Riefenhauser, a certified graduate student, joined the training room this year.
The role of sports medicine, though not often thought about, is extremely important, Clark said.
“The role of sports medicine is a big part of athletics,” he said. “Our number one priority is prevention and care. Our second priority is helping injured athletes come back to preinjury condition.”
Clark, who’s been a trainer for 26 years and spent 12 of those at Newman University, said the most important part of prevention is understanding how to keep athletes in shape.
“Even if you’re playing your sport, if that’s all you’re doing throughout the year, you will decondition as an athlete, and you will become weaker as the season goes on,” Clark said. “So we let our coaches know that some kind of in-season workouts are crucial for our athletes.”
Though the Jets’ sports medicine staff focuses on prevention and care, injuries do happen.
Take junior women’s basketball starter Mali Wright, for example, who recently tore her ACL and meniscus and sprained her MCL.
Wright said her team conditions and lifts during the season, but some injuries aren’t avoidable. However, she said since her injury, the training staff have been a great help to her.
“This is my first long-term injury,” she said. “They’ve been very supportive and helpful throughout the process. Even before my injury, I was in the training room every day with Terra and Cam helping me rehab little injuries and things like that.”
The women’s basketball team has two other starters out with injuries as well.
Clark said injuries cycle throughout the year, and some years will be worse than others. Though seeing athletes suffer long-term injuries is hard, Clark said getting them through their rehab and back to practice is extremely fulfilling.
“The most satisfying part of my job is seeing that injured athlete return to their sport and be successful. That’s what it’s all about,” Clark said. “There’s nothing better than seeing a kid smile on the court or on the field and see them succeed and have a great year after they’ve been injured.”