Jan 29, 2015
From Life Savers to Laid Off

By Kenny Berkowitz

No one can ever accuse athletic training of being an uneventful profession. In this installment of Athletic Trainers in the News, we look at stories about athletic trainers who saved a life and got laid off a week later, a girls’ basketball team that donned pink uniforms in support of its athletic trainer who is fighting breast cancer, and the athletic trainers from the Philadelphia Eagles, who won the The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society Athletic Training Staff of the Year for 2010.


It’s been a strange couple of weeks for East Stroudsburg University Head Athletic Trainer Colleen Shotwell and Athletic Trainer Wendy Dietrich. Two weeks ago, they rushed to the aid of a 22-year-old student whose heart stopped beating while playing basketball. Shotwell blew air into his mouth while Dietrich applied an automated external defibrillator (AED) and pumped his chest until an ambulance arrived.

“I’m just overcome with joy that I was able to help this young man,” Dietrich told the Pocono Record. She described herself as “almost like a proud coach after a win. The AED is what saved his life.”

Then a week later, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties announced that Dietrich, Shotwell, and a third ESU staff athletic trainer would be laid off at the end of the spring semester. Officials at ESU explained that despite the layoff notices, they plan to renew the contracts–but for a shorter period than the usual 12-month contract.

“Verbally, [the University] has told us they want to open three new contracts for a smaller time frame, but as of right now, we don’t have anything to show for it,” said Dietrich. “We are here to save lives, and I think last Tuesday we demonstrated that.”

••• The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society honored the Philadelphia Eagles as its 2010 Athletic Training Staff of the Year. The award, which was voted on by the athletic training staffs of all 32 NFL teams, was given to Head Athletic Trainer Rick Burkholder and assistants Steve Condon, Joseph O’Pella, and Chris Peduzzi.

“Rick and his staff are well deserving of this award,” said Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid. “It’s easy to see why they were voted by their peers as the best staff in the NFL. They have earned the trust of the players, coaches, and the entire medical staff for their tireless work on and off the field, giving players the most advanced medical treatment available.”

In accepting the award, Burkholder was proud to share the credit.

“It means a lot to my staff because it’s voted on by our peers,” he said. “The other teams thought we were the best this year, and that’s a great thing.

“You can’t avoid injuries in this game,” Burkholder continued. “So what we have to do is just go back to the athletic training room, follow our process day in and day out, and the injuries will take care of themselves.”


At Oak Lawn (Ill.) Community High School, the girls’ basketball team traded its traditional Kelly green uniforms for pink to honor Head Athletic Trainer Krista Mannion, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Nearly 1,000 fans showed up to see the Lady Spartans defeat Bremen High School, 65-20, with both teams dressed in pink and playing with a pink ball.

The idea originated with Head Coach Janet Haubenreiser, who designed the event to raise awareness and funds for Mannion’s care.

“As an athletic trainer, she’s always there to help. I thought this would be a good idea to show her that we care,” Haubenreiser said. “It’s important to give back to the community where you live. The kids do a lot, but this Pink Out game gave them a chance to show their support.”

More than 800 pink T-shirts were sold, and a portion of the proceeds from concessions were given to Mannion, along with gifts and the pink game ball.

“I am so touched by all of this,” Mannion said. “I knew that I worked for a great school, but Oak Lawn is more than just a school–it is my second family. To spotlight me at the Pink Out game, in addition to the staff wearing ‘Krista’ T-shirts, gives me courage, faith and the strength to beat this cancer.”


In Chesapeake, Va., Grassfield High School established a scholarship in memory of Athletic Trainer Anne Elizabeth McKim, who passed away after a week in intensive care. The school held a moment of silence on the morning after her death, and another moment of silence at the basketball games the following night.

“She was always willing to lend a helping hand, a listening ear, a smile, a word of encouragement,” Principal Carolyn Bernard said. “She was just incredible.”

Kenny Berkowitz is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Have a link to a story you’d like to see included in a future blog? E-mail us at: [email protected]




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