Conversations by Candlelight: Bless the Student Trainers

By SAM MATHAI

Every week, senior Sam Mathai sits down with a new CC athlete, coach, or trainer and gets intimate about athletics.

Behind every great writer, there is some sort of vice. Behind every struggling artist, there is an exhausted, supportive parent. Behind every fortune, there is a crime. Behind every list of clichés, there is a writer struggling for material.

But what is behind a student athlete? Some might suggest that behind every student athlete, there is a loving support system. I would say these people are wrong. I would say that the only thing available to student athletes on a day-to-day basis is a dedicated group of student trainers.

In between their classes and other commitments, the Colorado College student trainers—a determined group of young men and women—dedicate a large chunk of their life to making sure the CC athletic teams don’t fall apart at the seams. Motivated by their pay or their burning desire to spend hours stretching athletes’ groins and hamstrings, or some combination thereof, these students are the first line of defense against injury and despair. They keep the teams supplied with water and they provide the therapies for various not-too-serious maladies.

I sat down with one of these angels of small miracles in an attempt to understand what this lifestyle is like. They spoke on the condition of anonymity, and to be honest I don’t know why; I literally have nothing bad to say about them. It’s like they don’t take this column seriously or something. Again, I am unsure why.

I was trying to ask if the job was rewarding, ask if their heart swelled when athletes expressed their sincere gratitude. Before I got through that sentence, however, I was cut off.

“No.”

Again, I was shocked. Isn’t everyone’s dream to help hydrate the CC men’s lacrosse team? Sure, these trainers get mobbed daily by dozens of athletes at once all asking for the same thing, and sure they work long hours watching boring practices in the heat and cold, but that seems trivial in comparison to the satisfaction of helping.

Then again, I understand where they are coming from. I wouldn’t want to spend my time stretching me out. I certainly wouldn’t want to show up an hour before me either. And I definitely wouldn’t want to deal with the needs of every other athlete I know for hours on end. Hell, athletes are the neediest people I know. I can see why taking care of them could be tiring.

My interviewee and I continued to talk about their life, their job, and their quirks and oddities, none of which I asked for. I really just wanted to know what kept them from snapping and storming out of the training room forever a la Scarface in Half Baked. In a rare heart-warming moment, they admitted that it was the people that kept them tethered to their job. “Without the athletes,” they said, “it wouldn’t be worth it.”

So next time you see a student trainer walking around, thank them. I mean, yes, they are paid, but there is no compensation that can assuage the pain of showing up an hour early to an already very early morning practice, or staying late on nights when coach won’t let practice end. It is easy to underestimate the impact they have but I can’t imagine playing a sport without their help.

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