Unseen by fans, valued by teams


When people typically walk down the halls of athletic buildings, they see the plaques mounted on the walls for honorable achievements given to certain individuals. But what about the people who are not in the spotlight?

The fans see the coaches and players working on the court and the sidelines, but there are several people around the scenes who fans may not notice. For example, trainers and the conditioning staff are always there for the athletes and coaches during their workouts.

One of those trainers is Jessica Rhodes, a graduate assistant athletic trainer who started at Northern Kentucky University in 2008. She is currently working with the men’s soccer team and women’s basketball team, but said the athletic trainers help each other out with different sports.

Rhodes said she became an athletic trainer because she likes working with physical therapy and because it is exciting how no two days are alike.
“It is nice to work with a population that enjoys competition and is motivated to work hard towards a goal,” Rhodes said.

Athletic trainers have a busy schedule and sometimes work all day, whether it is at practices and competitions or running treatments and rehabs around the student athletes’ schedules, according to Rhodes.

For Rhodes, one of the most difficult parts of her job is giving an athlete bad news about a career-ending injury, because that can be devastating. Conversely, she said being able to return somebody from an injury is one of the highlights.

“The most rewarding parts are seeing our athletes succeed after coming back from an injury, or getting them through a season, when they would not otherwise have been able to,” Rhodes said.

According to women’s basketball assistant coach Karmen Graham, it takes a lot of work for athletic trainers like Rhodes to be successful on a daily basis.
“Jessica Rhodes spends countless hours whether it is taping, rehabbing or going to the doctor’s office,” Graham said.
Graham said a huge part of Rhodes’ job is to have athletes back in action as soon as possible.

Coaches count on athletic trainers for assistance in getting their players back on the active roster. The athletic trainers at NKU are the ones who make the calls on who is able to play.

The trainers are also vital in treating injured athletes.
“[Rhodes] is always there for us no matter what and is always taking care of us,” said freshman forward Melody Doss of the women’s basketball team.

Stephen Wilder contributed to this story.