Nov 5, 2015Athletic Trainer Has Georgia Tech Basketball Team Healthy and Happy
The men’s basketball team at Georgia Institute of Technology has nearly 100 percent of its players ready and healthy to play, and many Yellow Jacket players and coaches are thanking Athletic Trainer Richard Stewart. According to an article at RamblinWreck.com, Stewart has helped a few players in particular recover from season-ending injuries, and it’s not only his medical knowledge that sets him apart—it’s his ability to motivate and connect with players.
“I’ve learned through 25 years of coaching how valuable having a great trainer is and Richard is as good as I’ve been around,” said Head Men’s Basketball Coach Brian Gregory. “He does all the stuff medically. He’s obviously top-notch in that but he has a tremendous relationship with the players. He’s very good at reading where guys are not only physically but mentally. He’s an important part of our coaching staff. You have to have the best of the best and that’s exactly what Richard is.”
The athletes agree, remarking on Stewart’s ability to push them while also encouraging them. Ben Lammers worked with Stewart when he came in as a freshmen still recovering from a dislocated knee.
“He’s never intimidating,” said Lammers. “When you’re coming back off a knee injury or something like that, where it takes six months to rehab, you’re in a little bit of a delicate state, so if you have a guy constantly yelling at you it can be fairly damaging. If I did something wrong, or if he didn’t think I was going hard enough in an exercise, he would get on me, but then he would also joke to get my mind off it. Rehab was really hard. I had to go through a bunch of pain. He made it a lot easier.”
“When you first get out of surgery, you have a lot of internal motivation with the rehab,” said Travis Jorgenson, who worked with Stewart after tearing his ACL. “But three or four months in, it’s painful and you’re tired and you have classes, and study halls or whatever. He really helps pushing you.
Players also noted Stewart’s ability to listen and to earn their trust.
“He asks a lot of questions, and he listens to you and listens to what you say about your body,” said Jorgenson. “He tweaks and personalizes whatever you have to do for treatment based on what you’re telling him so you can get better rather than just doing a strict structure.”
“My trust level with him is high,” said Marcus Georges-Hunt, who suffered a fracture in his foot. “Anything he asks me to do I know it’s nothing but to better me, to better my body and make my body stronger. Everything he wants me to do he’ll show me how to do it. A lot of former players come back and see Richard and that’s pretty big because they, obviously, have the same high trust in him as well.”
As much as Stewart gives his athletes, he gets in return.
“The most rewarding thing is just being able to get these guys back from long-term serious injuries,” said Stewart. “Going throughout the entire process, seeing them be able to get back onto the court and seeing the light and the sparkle in their eyes and their faces saying, ‘I’m back,’ that’s probably the most rewarding aspect.”
Stewart stresses the importance of a positive outlook, patience, and encouragement for players who are eager to contribute to their team and frustrated that they can’t. Working with injured athletes also allows Stewart be a mentor, and to teach them the skills to persevere.
“It’s in our nature, in our DNA to not just be an athletic trainer, not just be the person that does their treatment and rehab all day. To be more than that,” he said. “To help them not only grow on the court and on the field, but as people. As kids adapting in life.”