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Cross Country: Warriors Excel at WNEU


Men and women rounding into shape as Little East meet approaches

By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff

Men's Results

Women's Results 

wxc_wneu72_3840.jpgEastern Connecticut State University's men and women's cross-country teams ran at the Western New England University Invitational Saturday.  Both teams ran extremely well, the women placing sixth in a field of 22 and the men ninth out of 18 teams.

The  five scoring runners for the women were junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) - who has led the team at the finish in each race this season and placed in the top five percent Saturday -- freshmen Mariah McPhee (Bristol), Sofia Amaral (New Milford), and Julie Trifone (Cheshire), and junior Alexandra Maciolek (Ellington).

The top five runners for the men were first-year sophomore transfer Taylor Flynn (Old Saybrook) - the team's pace-setter once again -- freshman Joe Rainville (Montville), senior Evan Glaude (East Hampton), freshman Chris Burkle (Guilford), and first-year cross country runner Michael Dolde (East Hampton), a second-year junior transfer.

Second-year head coach Kathy Manizza believes that the team is hitting its peak at the perfect time.  'I think they're all peaking just in time for (Little East Conference Championships Nov. 2).  I'm excited. I think we'll have a good day (at the LEC Championships)."

mxc_wneu72_3879.jpgInjuries have plagued both the men's and the women's team all season.  Two of the top five women, senior fourth-year participants Katie France (Portland) and Alexa Palasky (Griswold) -- were both out on Saturday.  France has not competed this season, while Palasky was sideline for the second consecutive meet.

While injuries have been an obstacle, this year's schedule has been favorable.  The team has had a week off  between meets for the past month, and it will be another two weeks before the  conference championship meet.  Manizza, a long distance runner herself, planned the schedule in order to rest the team members for the most important races of the season.  She believes that the weeks between races allow the team ample time to rest, but still allows the runners to train hard enough to prepare for the next race.

"Hopefully this gives everyone a chance to recover," Manizza stated, "If everyone is healthy for the conference championship, it will be the first time this season that the entire women's team runs."

McPhee, a four-year cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field letterwinner Bristol Eastern, is one individual in particular who has shown steady improvement throughout the entire season.  McPhee wasn't able to train as frequently as she would have liked over the summer because of her busy work schedule.  However, since the semester began, she has rounded into top shape.  She started the season as the fifth runner, but has worked her way up all the way to No. 2 behind Labanara, whom she pushing for the No. spot. On Saturday, Labanara was tenth overall in a field of 190 in a time of 20:10 over the 5,000 meter course, with McPhee right behind in 16th place overall in a time of 20:27. Amaral checked in in 27th place overall, Trifone 44th and Maciolek 79th.

"I thought the whole team worked very hard (Saturday)," McPhee stated.  "We all ran really well."

Flynn and Rainville ran a strong 1-2 over the 8,000 meter course, Flynn placing 32nd overall in a time of 28:21, while Rainville was 25 seconds and seven spots back. Glaude was 58th overall, Burkle 73rd and Dolde 86th.

Iron-Willed Manizza is World Qualifier

By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff

Kathy Lake T72dpi.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Move over Robert Downey Jr... There's a new Ironman in town: Eastern Connecticut State University cross country and track and field coach Kathy Manizza is training to compete in next year's World Ironman 70.3 Championship at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.

This past summer, 59 Ironman competitions were held around the world, and the winners from each age group qualified to compete at Mont-Tremblant, which is located about 80 miles north-west of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains.  Manizza qualified by winning her age group (55-60 years old) in an Ironman competition in Gilford, NH on Aug. 18.

An Ironman 70.3 competition consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run.  Manizza's time for the qualifying event was five hours, 29 minutes, 54 seconds.  To put that time in perspective, the average time for a woman in her age group is about 7 hours.  Her incredible performance was over an hour and a half faster than the average competitor.

This type of performance obviously demands a strict training regime. Manizza trains about 15-20 hours per week.  She bikes about 180 miles, and runs about 30 miles every week.  When asked about her swimming, she admitted to hating it.  However she still pushes herself to swim three or four days every week. She has a strict vegan diet, and she does not eat any processed foods.  When asked how she stays motivated, she responded, "My husband Ken is a competitor too.  I enjoy training with him because he is always pushing me to do my best."

Manizza is in her second stint on the Eastern coaching staff.  Born in Hawaii, and a graduate of Cal State Fresno, Manizza coached cross-country and track at Eastern in the mid-1990s before spending 13 seasons at the University of Hartford.

Manizza has been active her entire life.  She first became involve in triathlons about 30 years ago.  Since that time, she has run in seven marathons, many more half-marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races.   She was also a member of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak team, which won the world championship three times.

Manizza is the kind of person that wants to be the best.  She does marathons and triathlons because she loves being fit and active, and she truly believes that leading an active lifestyle leads to happiness.  Also, she wants to be a role model for her cross country and track teams.  She trains hard, and her hard work pays off.  She is an inspiration to everyone.

Cross Country:Strong at Tri-State Open

Men and women's teams show depth with impressive finishes at CCRI

Complete Results

By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff

mcphee72_3855.jpgLINCOLN, R.I. -- Eastern Connecticut State University's men's and women's cross country teams raced this weekend at the Community College of Rhode Island Tri-State Open, competing at the college's Lincoln campus. 

The Eastern women's team finished third out of seven teams, and the men tied for second  in a field of ten teams. 

At right: Mariah McPhee

However, the scoreboard doesn't always tell the full story. 

Four of the girls --  junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) and freshmen Mariah McPhee (Bristol), Sofia Amaral (New Milford), and Julie Trifone (Cheshire) -- all finished in the top 15.  Three of the men - senior Evan Glaude (East Hampton), first-year sophomore Taylor Flynn (Old Saybrook), and freshman Joe Rainville (Montville) also finished in the top 15.  Even more amazing is that five of the women and two of the men did not run because they were ill.

Head coach Kathy Manizza credits this success to the tough practices the week leading up to the meet.  "Since we didn't have a meet last week, we had 10 and 12 mile runs in practice to try to prepare as best we could for this meet."

rainville72_6504.jpgLabanara (5th overall) and Flynn (11th) were first across the line Saturday for their respective programs for the fourth straight race. Rainville and Glaude followed by checking in at 12th and 15th, respectively (just 13 seconds apart) over the 8,000 meter course, to provide the Warriors with a solid top three.  Sophomore Steven LaFlamme (Moosup) ignited the second wave of Eastern men's runners by finishing 23rd, with freshmen Mike Underwood (Farmington) and Chris Burkle (Guilford) engaged in a battle as the team's fifth and final scorer in 25th and 26th place, respectively.

At right: Joe Rainville

 McPhee and Amaral supported Labanara by steaming in two seconds apart in eighth and ninth place, respectively, giving the Warriors three of the top nine finishers.  Trifone was Eastern's fourth finisher in 15th place overall. Bridgewater, however, won the duel for second place in the team standings. The Bears' No. 5 runner, freshman Brittany Reed, took 13th place to secure second place for Bridgewater behind team winner Wheaton College (MA), eight points better than Eastern. First-year sophomore Kelsey Nixon (Ledyard) rounded out Eastern's five scorers with an overall finish of 30th, scoring 25 points, to allow the Warriors to ease to a 45-point victory over fourth-place finisher Roger Williams University.

Manizza is excited for the future of the program because of the development of the underclassmen, as seven of the women are newcomers to the program, as are eight of the men. The two teams have a combined total of 11 freshmen.

Eastern will be idle again this Saturday  before competing at the Western New England University Invitational Oct. 19, then will have another two-week layoff in preparation for the Little East Conference/New England Alliance Championship Nov. 2.

Labanara, Flynn Lead Cross Country


By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- After their third meet of the season Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Invitational, the Eastern Connecticut State University men and women's cross-country teams are in full swing. 

Even though both teams were missing some of their top runners because of injury, second-year head coach Kathy Manizza was very proud of her squad.  "A lot of the time, the team runs as individuals, but (Saturday) they really ran together as a team.  The team chemistry is amazing this year," she said.

The men's team finished 18th out of 28, and the women finished 13th out of 29.   Last year at the same meet, the teams finished 28th and 25th, respectively. For the third straight race, first-year sophomore transfer Taylor Flynn (Old Saybook) led the way for the men and junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) was first across the line for the women.

Injuries are a big storyline for the cross-country teams.  The men's team is missing its top runner from last year.  Also, freshman Dustin Plourde (Norwich) aggravated a stress fracture during the race.  For the women, senior Katie France (Portland) has been out all season with an injury. 

Coach Manizza hopes everyone will be healthy in time for Little East Conference Championship Nov. 2 at the University of Southern Maine. Eastern is idle this Saturday but returns to action Oct. 5 at the Community College of Rhode Island Tri-State Open.

Run over 8,000 meters
(Eastern finished 18th in a field of 28 teams)

(210 finishers)


78. (72) Taylor Flynn 28:22; 98. (91) Joe Rainville 28:51; 114. (107) Steven LaFlamme 29:09; 140. (127) Michael Dolde 30:13; 154. (139) Mike Underwood 30:44; 169. (152) Dustin Plourde 31:37; 180. (161) Chris Burkle 32:47; 182. (--) Chris Armstrong 32:51.

Run over 5,000 meters
(Eastern finished 13th in a field of 29 teams)

(207 finishers)


43. (42) Kelly Labanara 20:06; 55. (53) Sofia Amaral 20:21; 60. (58) Mariah McPhee 20:28; 95. (92) Julie Trifone 21:10;  101 (98) Alexa Palasky 21:19; 141. (136) Kelsey Nixon 22:20; 165. (157) Kailynn Violette 23:45.

Weight Room Renovation Completed

weight room72_7464.jpg

weight_room72x_7440.jpgThe Eastern Connecticut State University Sports Center weight room underwent a facelift this past summer. The room, which is located on the bottom floor of the building and services the entire Eastern community, includes new rubberized flooring, new stereo system, signage, expanded mirror coverage, "Eastern Warrior" platform/power racks, new polyurethane dumbells, kettle bells, barbells, bands, free weights, assisted dip and pull-up machine, two fixed glute/hamstring machines, TRX suspension training packs, medicine balls, leather jump ropes, plyo boxes, bosu balls and jammer machines. Weight room hours are Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Cross Country: Encouraging Results


Far left: Kelly Labanara; near left: Steven LaFlamme (Photos by Liam Murphy and Nikki Chambers).

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Second-year head cross country coach Kathy Manizza knows that there's a lot of work ahead as her young men's and women's teams develop into post-season shape, but she was  encouraged after the teams completed their only home race of the season this past Saturday at Mansfield Hollow State Park.

Featuring six newcomers among the eight Eastern competitors, the women's team eased past Bridgewater State University by 18 points, and downed the University of Saint Joseph (CT) by 50 points over the challenging 5,000 meter layout Saturday morning.

Similarly young with seven first-year runners among the nine which finished the 4.2 mile course, the men's team ran a strong second to Bridgewater State in the dual meet, falling a point shy when No. 3 Bears' runner Ben Dinobile was able to hold off the charge of Eastern's top runner, sophomore transfer Taylor Flynn (Old Saybrook), at the finish line.

Both Eastern teams ran for the second straight week without a key runner. For the men, it was No. 1 runner Lee Cattanach (New London), a junior, and for the women, it was senior Katie France (Portland). One of two three-year letterwinners on the team, France ran 1-2 a year ago but has been rehabilitating a stress fracture since the summer.

Saturday, the Eastern men were unable to break up Bridgewater's top three of individual winner Dallas O'Brien, Mark Waller and Ben Dinobile, but filled in the next seven spots. Needing to outrun Dinobile for Eastern to pull out the win, Flynn came out of the final loop hard but could not quite overtake his competitor over the final stretch of just under 200 meters.

"Our men really did run well," noted Manizza, "certainly gave it a really solid effort, and supported each other as a team. That's what was really impressive. They ran as a pack throughout the race and definitely were pushing each other, and that was what was exciting."

Scoring points for Eastern behind Flynn - who transferred from Southern Connecticut State University this fall --  were freshmen Dustin Plourde (Norwich) and Joe Rainville (Montville), sophomore Steven LaFlamme (Moosup), and first-year junior track competitor Michael Dolde (East Hampton).

As a bonus, Eastern's top four men ran as a unit, with only 37 seconds separating Flynn from LaFlamme at the tape.

"Taylor gave 100 percent effort once he turned out of the woods," praised Manizza. "He tried to outkick the Bridgewater kid, but our top guys just waited too long (to overcome Bridgewater's first three). They knew that they needed to break up those top three by making their move a little earlier. It's impossible to win a cross country race if the other school gets 1-2-3."

Manizza points to LaFlamme as one of the team's most improved runners, citing his exhaustive training regimen this past summer.

Led by junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) and freshman Sofia Amaral (New Milford), the five scoring runners for the women's team all finished among the first seven runners.

Labanara, named as the Little East Conference's Runner-of-the-Week Monday for her effort in the race, led the Warriors for the second straight race this season, with only nine seconds separating her from individual winner Danielle Poto of Bridgewater.

Amaral was third overall - 24 seconds behind Labanara - with senior three-year letterwinner Alexa Palasky (Griswold) fourth overall, freshman Mariah McPhee (Bristol) sixth and freshman Julie Trifone (Cheshire) rounding out Eastern's five scorers with a seventh-place overall showing.

Behind Labanara and Amaral, Palasky, McPhee and Trifone ran as a group, with only 39 seconds between the three.

"Our women ran as a pack, and they did a great job of pushing each other. Mariah  is getting stronger and stronger every time out," said Manizza of McPhee, who was unable to put in maximum mileage this summer due to academic commitments. "I think that she will eventually catch up to Sofia (Amaral), then we'll really have a strong top three, and Alexa (Palasky) and Julie (Trifone) will be right there, as well. It's exciting that we have such a strong top seven."

Although Poto took the coveted top spot, her teammates could not submit similar results. All five Eastern scorers, as well as Kaneen Gomez-Hixson of Saint Joseph, crossed the tape before Natalya Riberdy managed to record an eight-place finish as Bridgewater's second finisher.

While injuries have sidelined Cattanach and France, Plourde has also been nursing stress fractures which sidelined during his senior season at Norwich Free Academy. He mixes an alternative running program with pool workouts this fall as he rehabs his injury.  For the women, senior Wendy Bouton (Stratford), junior Alexandra Maciolek (Ellington) and freshman Ashley Skolozdra (Mount Laurel, NJ) all sat out Saturday's competition with injuries, according to Manizza.

Eastern closes out the month of September Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational.

Run over 4.2 miles

Bridgewater State U. 29, Eastern Conn. 30

1. Dallas O'Brien (B) 24:05; 2. Mark Waller (B) 24:50; 3. Ben Dinobile (B) 25:04; 4. Taylor Flynn  € 25:08; 5. Dustin Plourde  € 25:21; 6. Joe Rainville € 25:32; 7. Steven LaFlamme € 25:45;  8. Michael Dolde € 26:16; 9. Chris Burkle € 26:18; 10. Mike Underwood € 26:26; 11. Andrew Single (B) 26:30; 12. Evan Glaude € 27:03; 13. John Whittemore (B) 27:22; 14. Chris Armstrong € 27:41; 15. Mike Gillis (B) 29:21.

Run over 5,000 meters

Eastern Conn. 23, Bridgewater State U. 41, U. of Saint Joseph (CT) 73

1. Danielle Poto (B) 20:27; 2. Kelly Labanara € 20:36; 3. Sofia Amaral € 21:00; 4. Kaneen Gomez-Hixson (S) 21:27; 5. 5. Alexa Palasky € 21:34; 6. Mariah McPhee € 21:57; 7. Julie Trifone € 22:13; 8. Natalya Riberdy (B) 22:19; 9. Brittany Reed (B) 22:21; 10. Kelsy Nixon € 22:30; 11. Rachel Ducharme (B) 22:37; 12. Emily Ducharme (B) 22:50; 13. Stephanie Ward-Smith (B) 24:27; 14. Kailynn Violette € 24:34; 15. Amber Trembley (S) 24:57; 16. Joyce Simon (B) 25:05; 17. Rachel Mauthe (S) 25:28; 18. Rachel Mezzoni € 26:25; 19. Anne Pitoniak (S) 26:46; 20. Bridget Saur (S) 27:45; 21. Serena Cochran (S) 37:02; 22. Lovely Jourdan (S) 37:47.

Eastern Conn.       2   3   5   6   7  -- 23
Bridgewater           1   8   9 11 12  -- 41
Saint Joseph, CT    4 15 17 18 19  -- 73







Cross Country: Warriors Open Season

At Wickham Park, Labanara leads women; two newcomers pace men

labanara72_3519.jpgMANCHESTER, Conn. - Junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin), the team's No. 5-6 runner a year ago, finished among the top 13 percent of the field as the team leader for Eastern Connecticut State University, when the women's cross country team opened the 2013 season at the Trinity College Invitational Saturday at Wickham Park.

At left: Kelly Labanara

On the men's side, newcomers comprised six of the team's nine finishers, with first-year sophomore transfer Taylor Flynn (Old Saybrook) placing among the top third finishers with an overall place of 28th in a field of 85.

The Eastern women totaled 124 points in a fifth-place finish among seven full teams, with the men checking in in seventh place among ten teams with 188 points.

Salve Regina won the women's event by pushing their five scoring runners among the first 11 for a 30-point win over host Trinity College. Division I Siena College placed its five scorers within the top nine for an easy victory in the men's race.

Labanara took 12th place in a field of 93 in a time of 18:03 over the 4,000 meter layout and was followed by freshmen Sofia Amaral (New Milford) and Julie Trifone (Cheshire), who placed 17th and 32nd overall, respectively. Rounding out the Eastern women's top five were senior Alexa Palasky (Griswold) and freshman Mariah McPhee (Bristol). Palasky was 42nd overall, McPhee 44th.

For the men, Flynn was timed in 18:08 over 5,000 meters and freshman Joe Rainville (Montville) placed 45th. Completing Eastern's scoring five were senior Evan Glaude (East Hampton) and freshmen Dustin Plourde (Norwich) and Michael Underwood (Farmington). Glaude was 50th, Plourde 52nd and Underwood 56th.

Eastern is home Saturday for a 10 a.m. meet at Mansfield Hollow State Park.

Men's Results
Run over 5,000 meters

Team Results

1. Siena College 28; 2. Connecticut College 73; 3. Trinity College 94; 4. U. of New Haven 105; 5. Salve Regina U. 121; 6. Lesley College 137; 7. EASTERN CONN. 188; 9. Post U. 2015; 10. Mitchell College 274.

(85 total finishers)

28. (25) Taylor Flynn 18:08; 45. (36) Joe Rainville 18:56; 50. (40) Evan Glaude 19:10; 52. (42) Dustin Plourde 19:15; 55. (45) Michael Underwood 19:28; 59. (47) Chris Burkle  19:36; 60 (48) Steven LaFlamme 19:42; 62. (--) Michael Dolde 19:52; 65. (--) Chris Armstrong 20:08.

Women's Results
Run over 4,000 meters

Team Results

1. Salve Regina U. 29; 2. Trinity College 59; 3. Siena College 68; 4. Lesley College 114; 5. EASTERN CONN. 124; 6. U. of New Haven 139; 7. Mitchell College 224.

(93 total finishers)

12. (12) Kelly Labanara 18:03; 17. (17) Sofia Amaral 18:20;  32. (28) Julie Trifone 18:49; 42. (33) Alexa Palasky 19:19; 44. (34) Mariah McPhee 19:25; 46. (35) Kelsey Nixon 19:29; 71. (43) Wendy Bouton  20:58; 85. (--) Kailynn Violette 22:15; 91 (--) Rachel Mezzoni 23:11.





Eastern Announces Pet Policy


M-Soccer: Goal-A-Thon Saturday

Charity to benefit Be The Match is combined with Team IMPACT

Eshield72dpi.jpgdecasanovashirtIMG951083.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team and alumni will sponsor a Goal-a-Thon to benefit the Be The Match National Marrow Donor Program Saturday, April 20 at 9 a.m. at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

All proceeds from the Goal-a-Thon will benefit the Be The Match program in the name of Eastern soccer senior Jon DeCasanova, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia this past fall and has spent most of the past eight months in the hospital.

The Goal-a-Thon involves Eastern players and alumni divided into teams of 4-6 and will play timed, small-sided games until a combined total of 100 goals are scored.The minimum sponsorship is 5 cents per goal.

Prior to the Goal-a-Thon,  15-year-old Tyler Belfleur of Canterbury will be outfitted in a team uniform and will join team members during official introductions as part of the Team IMPACT! Program.  In June of 2012, Tyler was involved in an ATV accident and sustained brain injury. Since then, he has advanced from a wheelchair to a walk and now needs only a crutch. Prior to the injury, Tyler was active in soccer and basketball, among other sports.

Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses. The goal of the organization is to harness the power of teamwork by matching those courageous kids with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are "drafted" onto local college athletic teams and to the greatest extent possible, become "official" members of the team for the duration of their treatment, and beyond.

Tyler will be "drafted" by the Eastern soccer team prior to the Goal-a-Thon.

To support the Goal-a-Thon through a financial contribution, contact Eastern head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito at  860-465-4334 or at



 By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff




The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) has designated the month of March as National Athletic Training Month.

The theme of the second annual NATA month is Every Body Needs an Athletic Trainer. From the NATA  toolkit, the goal  is "to continue to reach those individuals and organizations that can help make a difference for athletic trainers when it comes to legislation, employment and public health."

At right: Athletic trainer Julie Alexander works recently with baseball catcher Ben Richards, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. (Daniela Marchitto photo)

Promoting the awareness of athletic training to people who do not know what athletic trainers do is a key goal that the NATA looks to achieve. Educating people of the importance of athletic trainers and establishing relationships between student-athletes and athletic trainers are things to consider in promoting the awareness.

Eastern Connecticut State University has athletic trainers who work hard without needing any recognition or high praise. The athletic trainers at Eastern are people who are helpful to the student-athletes and make sure each are cleared to play based on the guidelines on handling a specific injury.

Below (from left): Eastern athletic trainers Julie Alexander, Stevie Clines, Tom Holton, Jarrett Sorge.

alexanderhead72dpi.jpgclines_head_72_0583USE.jpgholton_head72.jpgsorge_722012_0573_USE.jpgAthletic trainer Julie Alexander, who graduated from Eastern with a B.S. in Psychology and went on to earn a M.S. in Athletic Training at Old Dominion University, expressed her feelings on the importance of this month and beyond.

"I think that we will carry out our day-to-day functions the same way we always have," said Alexander. "Any athlete that comes in with an illness or an injury that's athletically-related, we care for the same way regardless of whether it's March, April, May, August or September.  I think this month of March is more to promote the field of athletic training to people who don't understand what it is that we do. A lot of people think athletic trainer, they think personal trainer, a strength coach, and while we do have some function in teaching strength and conditioning and techniques, we're also on the field emergency care, injury evaluation, treatment rehabilitation, returning to play concussion management, the list goes on and on."

Alexander, who was hired at her alma mater this past summer after many years at Division I Sacred Heart University, has been proud of helping out the people she has met in her field.

"After 20 plus years, I can tell you that anytime we have an injured athlete, the best day is the day that they return to their field of play," said Alexander.  "That is probably the most exciting thing about what we do, especially if it's an athlete that's been injured, had surgical interventions, has gone through post surgical rehabilitation in our room; returning to play is those days I look forward to. I enjoy every day but those are the days that are special."

As there are upsides, there are downsides for being an athletic trainer. Athletic trainer Tom Holton, who earned a B.S. in Physical Education from Eastern and an M.S.S. in Sports Medicine from the U.S. Sports Academy, noted that he loves his job but dislikes when he lets the student-athlete know the bad news.

"I love doing my job it's just part of the job you hate saying 'you can't play'," said Holton. "I really wish I could come into work every day and not have to do that.. The reality of the fact is that  there's people we have to hold out and tell them 'you're season's over, you got to have surgery' and deal with the emotions of that athlete and how they're going to handle 'my career is over'."

Holton, a staff member since 1999, noted how being able to get the student-athlete to get back in his or her field of play and watching him or her succeed is one of his proudest moments as an athletic trainer.

Eastern director of athletics  Dr. Jeff Konin, another Eastern alum,  has been an athletic trainer and a physical therapist. Konin mentioned how the importance of athletic trainers is not just for the collegiate level, but for all levels of competition.

"The purpose is to bring awareness to the general public, to bring awareness to the public of the importance of athletic trainers and the injury prevention care of the numerous student-athletes that participate in sports in all levels," said Konin. "At the high school level, less than 50 percent of high schools have an athletic trainer, and when every high school has programs but less than half of them have proper ways to care for the kids, that's why an awareness month is there to inform people of what they should be doing to provide appropriate programs. You wouldn't put them out there if you didn't have the fields, you wouldn't put them out there if you didn't have the coaches and you really shouldn't put them out there if you don't have the appropriate medical care for them."

As the spring season is starting to get into full-swing, so are the athletic trainers at Eastern working hard to make sure every student-athlete is evaluated and cleared to play. The month of March will be busy at Eastern with lacrosse, baseball, softball, and track & field. The Eastern athletic trainers will be the unsung heroes in helping our student-athletes,  not only during national NATA month, but every month of the academic year.

"I have the best job in the world," said Alexander. "In this job, you don't sit behind a desk or do the same thing every day . Every day is different , and you get to work with amazing people who you want to see get better when they get injured.. What's better than that?"

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