By: Taylor Bettencourt
Treating sprains, pulled muscles, and other various sports injuries are what Head Athletic Trainer Kelly Gaughan and her crew of Sports Medicine Assistants (SMAs) do best, using their medical knowledge as well creating a friendly environment for healing athletes.
Kelly Gaughan, also known as “Kelly Trainer” on campus, is the Head Athletic Trainer for all varsity sports here at Franciscan University. Guaghan received her Bachelors and Masters of science in Athletic training and has held the position as Head Athletic Trainer here at Franciscan for the past 7 years. She has also previously held positions as Head Athletic Trainer at several high schools around the state of Ohio.
Gaughan also oversees and runs the Sports Medicine Assistant (SMA) program here at Franciscan. This program offers students the opportunity to be able to get hands on experience in the field of sports medicine.
“The SMA position is fairly unique to FUS. I have developed the position to mirror many aspects of what a first year athletic training major would be taught clinically at a school offering that course of study,” said Gaughan. “Among other things, they are taught proficiencies in taping, wrapping, rehabilitation exercise instruction, splinting, stretching, and massage as well as our emergency response protocol.”
Gaughan explained that the SMA program splits into two however, with level one SMAs in their first year in the program and level two SMAs in their second year or more. Level one consists of learning much of the techniques needed to be able to perform on athletes, which includes not only taping and learning the various physical therapy stretches, but also learning to ask the proper questions need to evaluate a recovering athlete. Level two SMAs help train the level ones, and since they already have a year worth of experience, they work directly with the athletes.
Whenever a student athlete is injured in practice or a game, they’re referred to Kelly and the SMA staff so that they can take a look at the injury and further decide what may need to be done to treat and rehabilitate the injury back to health.
“They’re always there to help me make sure everything’s feeling good,” freshman soccer player, Michael Aldrich said.
The SMA’s also directly communicate with Gaughan to ensure that the right steps are taken for each athlete.
“The health and wellness of our student athletes are our number one priority.” Gaughan said, adding that both she and the SMA staff take this to heart every day.
Chris Plance a second year graduate student SMA said, “We help the athletes but we also encourage them, to keep their heads up. We try to lift their spirits by encouraging them, praying for them or telling them that we’re going to pray for them. Usually the athletic training room is a place where athletes come in and are sad because they’re injured. And Kelly and all the SMAs do a good job of keeping it professional but also a calm and fun environment for the athletes. We have a lot of fun in here.”
“Being an SMA is my favorite. We have a fantastic SMA family, and our boss is pretty great too,” Maria Duechar a senior SMA said.
“The training room staff is like a family. I couldn’t do my job without each of them, and they couldn’t do their job without each other.” said Gaughan. So, whether on or off the sports field this humble, happy and hard-working family is making sure our student athletes are taken care of.