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Tournaments Mar 10, 2013

Athletic trainers happy to be idle, but eager to help at Jefferson Cup

By Charles Boehm

RICHMOND, Va. – Several common visual themes can be spotted at the dozens of venues and hundreds of fields playing host to Jefferson Cup: Banners and flags bearing the event’s logo, the bright orange water and sports-drink jugs splashed with the famous “G” logo of event partner Gatorade…and the bright red jackets worn by the licensed athletic trainers standing by to care for injured players.

The weekend’s matches brought a range of physical challenges for participants over and above the normal wear and tear of high-intensity matches. Cold, bitterly windy conditions greeted Under-16, -17 and-18 teams taking part in showcase games on Friday, and while Saturday’s mild, sunny weather was far more pleasant, the day challenged younger age groups with two matches, leading to outbreaks of leg cramping in the afternoon.

By and large, however, the trainers on site had little to do, and were thankful for it.

“It’s been a very quiet day – it’s been very boring for us, which is a good thing,” said Patrick Sheehan, ATC, who has been on the Jeff Cup training staff for nearly a decade. “The more bored we are, the better it is. The worst thing has been the wind.”

Sheehan was bemused by the wide variety of reactions he saw among teams as the event got underway on Friday. Clearly some club’s preparation levels were stronger than others.

“The kids from this area seem to be fine,” he said. “There was a team that was here from Florida, they didn’t have [layering gear] – they had nothing and they were out here playing. It was kind of comical. Then you get some teams that are, I don’t know, more used to it – there was a team here from Newburgh, New York, and they didn’t even blink. They had no problems with the cold at all.

“The hardest thing is – no pun intended – when it’s this cold out, the ball is harder. You head the ball, it might have a bit more of an impact. It’s definitely something to watch out for.”

Like most of the ATs at Jeff Cup, Sheehan is a full-time trainer based out of a hospital facility which farms out his services and expertise to nearby high schools, with events like this one representing occasional freelance weekend work.

After a long stint at Chancellor High School in Fredericksburg, Va., an hour’s drive north of Richmond, he recently relocated to Charlotte, N.C. With his Virginia licensing set to run out at the end of the year, he says this will likely be his last gig at Jefferson Cup.

Sheehan strongly advises tournament participants to take advantage of the professional expertise available to them if and when they sustain injuries. And sure enough, as bodies began to tire on Saturday evening, more and more players could be seen limping and grimacing, on the lookout for red jackets to come to their aid.

“What I like to see is, if the kids do get hurt, to make sure that they come and see us,” said Sheehan. “With any head injuries or something like that, they definitely need to come get checked out.”

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