SALISBURY, MD---Using skills developed through Salisbury University’s Athletic Training Education program, Lt. Col. Brian McGuire, an SU alumnus, helps marines stay injury-free during training. In recognition of National Athletic Training Month, SU highlights the work of McGuire (’85) and other alumni who are athletic trainers involved with military programs.
“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is really starting to promote jobs at boot camps and with special forces that require high levels of training,” said Pat Lamboni, SU’s head athletic trainer. “It’s taking the principles used for athletes and applying it to the military.”
Implemented in 2004, the Marine Corps Sports Medicine and Injury Prevention Program, which McGuire runs at the base in Quantico, V.A., helps to reduce the incidence and healing time of muscular-skeletal injuries. Through the program, NATA Certified Athletic Trainers prevent, assess, treat and rehabilitate those with injuries, similar to the care they provide for collegiate and professional athletes.
“Athletic trainers support the military mission by decreasing attrition and loss of work days,” said McGuire, who studied physical education and athletic training at SU and was an Emory University trainer before his active military service. In addition to operating at two Quantico schools, the program has been incorporated at four other sites: Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Camp Pendleton in California, and the Marine Corps recruit training depots in Parris Island, S.C., and San Diego, C.A. McGuire said there are plans to expand the program.
SU alumnus Vince Mancini (‘99) is one of three athletic trainers working with more than 22,000 recruits who graduate from Parris Island each year, and the marines and sailors stationed there. “We handle all muscular-skeletal issues to put recruits back into training,” he said. “We’re experts in that realm because we see injuries like sprained ankles or contusions on the athletic field all the time. Our role takes stress off the medical specialists."
Alumnus Mike Strock (’91) manages a similar Navy program in Norfolk, V.A. He assists with strength and conditioning, as well as rehabilitation for Special Warfare Combatant-craft crewman and Navy Seals. “There are a lot of parallels to the collegiate athletic training environment,” said the former head athletic trainer at Virginia Wesleyan College who studied physical education and athletic training at SU. “We still view these guys as athletes, but their stakes are a little higher than a traditional collegiate athlete.”
Strock said athletic trainers are also able to care for those facing chronic injuries during a military career. “Millions of dollars are spent on training and we want to protect them and that investment, and make sure they have a good quality of life when they retire,” he said. McGuire agreed that with the high cost of recruiting prospective service members, it saves money to have athletic trainers identify and treat injuries early. “We need to make training as tough as possible, and at the same time mitigate injury,” he said.
SU’s Athletic Training Education Program prepares students for the Board of Certification examination and for careers with athletic health care teams at schools, colleges, clinics, professional sports and other settings. “Salisbury’s program is diverse and comprehensive,” McGuire said. “That sort of broad exposure prepares athletic trainers very well for all fields, including the military setting.”