Any time you attend a Mesa Community College sporting event and see the athletes compete, your first thoughts might be of the athletes. Their athleticism, IQ for the game, and dedication to their sport.
One thing that gets glossed over when it comes to sports are those behind the scenes that work tirelessly to ensure the athletes are healthy to perform in the sports they love.
For MCC that person is head athletic trainer Marty Parel.
Parel has been the head athletic trainer for the past six years, before that he was the assistant athletic trainer for four years. He also had an internship at Pima Community College during the senior year of his undergraduate program.
Parel has always wanted to be involved in the healthcare field. He notes the level of empathy needed to care for a patient is a key element in his passion. His love for sports was also a factor in him becoming an athletic trainer, when all goes right he gets to watch sports for a living.
“Athletic training was one of those fields that caters to my interests,I like a lot of the things around physical therapy and if I can work around sports then I think I would enjoy that job a lot, and athletic training has the best of both worlds.”
Parel’s job requires him to be on his toes at all times. He may be watching a game and everything is going great with all athletes competing with nothing bothering them physically. Then he may be called into action for a sprained ankle on the court or a possible concussion on the pitch.
One of the more difficult situations Parel faces, more often than one might think, is when an athlete gets injured during a big game or during a pivotal time during a contest. Parel knows the urgency for an athlete to want to get back into the game to help their team or impress scouts, on the other hand Parel must do right by the athlete and prioritize their health and safety.
“The number one priority is if this athlete goes in, can they cause further injury to their body. We have to drive home the education component to the athlete, letting them know this is their injury and the consequences you may face,” said Parel, “You have to drive home the long term, they might not be able to go right now but if we pull them out now we can get them back sooner than if they went back into the game.”
One of the most challenging aspects of being an athletic trainer at a junior college is the amount of resources given to the athletic training staff. Parel does his best to make due with what he has in order to keep his athletes safe and healthy.
Each sport comes with its own share of physical risks. Sports like golf will result in lower back injuries, while baseball and tennis will cause shoulder and elbow injuries. When it comes to contact sports like basketball and soccer, the injuries come in all sorts of ways from knee and ankle sprains, to concussions and hand injuries.
Parel is always on high alert during soccer games, especially during the later portion of the season. As the season wears on the player’s bodies, time and non-contact injuries, though they might look harmless, can cause catastrophic long term injuries.
“The demands on soccer players are immense, having to have agility and speed and being able to cut,” said Parel, “A good chunk of injuries are non-contact injuries, stepping wrong on a foot and they feel their ankle or knee give out. We see a lot of these around the tail end of the season.”
The grind for the athletes during the season is long and difficult. They face countless obstacles both mentally and physically. Luckily for them, they are able to have Parel and his staff by their side in order for them to compete at the highest level.