When most people watch a sporting event, they think that the players and coaches are the most important people in the game and on the sidelines.

Yes ? they are the people that usually get the credit for the game-winning tackle or devising a play to hit the game winning jump shot.

But it is a little known fact that indeed they are not the most important person on the field, court or any other playing surface.

If you look closely at that person celebrating in the end-zone, you’ll most likely notice mass quantities of white athletic tape, braces, bandages plastered all over their body.

Gee, where does that come from? That is the answer to the question of “who is the most important person on the field?”

In the case of UR athletics it is the person standing down on the sidelines looking dapper in their khaki pants and blue-collared shirt.

It is the only undefeated team, led by head trainer Mary Salluzzo, with her knowledgeable sidekick, Philip Steckley, one who all the athletes simply know as Phil.

This pair, along with a plethora of hard working student trainers, have kept UR athletes on their feet and on the playing field.

Athletic training is often a job overlooked by many people.

During preseason camps this past summer being a kicker, I had a lot of time to stand around and talk to whichever trainer was on duty.

I learned that the two weeks prior to the beginning of the regular season, our trainers are expected to be on duty from as early as 6:30 a.m. to as late as 10:00 p.m. for five days a week.

For instance, I asked Mary for a rough estimate of how many people she treated during the fall season alone. Although she did not have an exact number, she told me that during the fall season which is coming to a close, her staff tapes at least 50 ankles every day during the season.

That list is complete with eight women’s soccer players, six men’s soccer players and 36 football players. Ankles combined with about one new sprain a day, two new strains a day and many new “whiners” like Brian Ferris, one of Mary’s favorites, a day accounts for one large workload.

They are expected to know every answer to every query that every athlete has. And being a UR athlete, I must say that our trainers have conquered that task. Not only do our trainers have pretty much all the answers, but they treat everybody on a first name basis.

Once you visit the training room once you are remembered forever.

I can safely say that all UR athletes are big fans of visiting the training room ? sometimes it’s for treatments, other times it’s just to socialize.

It is a close, friendly atmosphere in those welcoming confines below Fauver Stadium and in the athletic center.

Some people describe their schooling experience as a “long, strange trip.”

Well, athletic training is no walk in the park.

In Mary’s case, she completed her BS degree in athletic training and exercise science at Ithaca College. She then finished her schooling at Arizona School for Health Science, where she received her masters in sports health care.

It takes a couple years to figure out how to how to treat the 639 muscles and 206 bones in the body ? which Mary or Phil can name forward and backward in alphabetic order according to the second letter in the word.

I’m serious, just ask them too.

So, next time you happen to be in athletic center just stop by the training room for the questions to anything you’d like to know.

The staff has every question answered, anything from “why does my zygomaticus major hurt” to “what the hell is a sphygmamometer?”

Johnston can be reached at cjohnston@campustimes.org.

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