Head football trainer Tony Hill has worked nonstop this season to rehab injured players
During the season, every college football team has to deal with injuries. Sometimes there are numerous amounts of injuries and occasionally there are few.
But for Fresno State this season, there have been a significant number of players who have missed time because of injuries. A.J Ellis, Rashad Evans, Zak Hill, Andrew Jackson, Matt Lindsay, Robbie Rouse, Phillip Thomas and Devon Wylie have each missed at least one game in 2010.
Head football athletic trainer Tony Hill has had his work cut out for him with all of these players missing time, but he’s seen his fair share of injuries.
“Actually, I don’t really think we have that many injuries to be honest with you,” Hill said. “Last year was definitely better, but this is football. It’s a collision sport. You can’t even call it a contact sport it’s a collision sport, and things are going to happen. I don’t think this is all that bad. Actually, when I was a graduate student at the University of Kentucky we had 40 surgeries in one season, so I’ll take that as my bar and we are well below that for the season.”
Even though Hill has not reached the bar set at the University of Kentucky, he still has dealt with injuries. But that hasn’t altered how he works with the players.
“It hasn’t really changed my job,” he said. “I’ve got to have good time management skills by making sure I can get the time to be with the guys individually [and] work with them and talk with them [to] find out where they’re at mentally and physically and carry out my other duties that I take care of throughout the day as well.”
Depending on a player’s injury, Hill uses certain treatments to get the players back onto the field.
“We work in a step by step fashion everyday and the guys know my drills that I do everyday. We always work on range of motion first, then we work on strength. Then we work on proprioception. You’re setting yourself up for a setback if you don’t incorporate all those three facets of rehab.”
Hill said that some of the treatments he uses to rehab players is myofascial release which eliminates pain and restores motion. Hill also uses an ultrasound machine that helps ease painful joints and muscles. Electric stimulation is used to improve endurance, reduce fatigue and chronic pain.
Hill also indicated the key to recovery isn’t always the physical methods. More often than not, mental rehabilitation works just as well.
“The biggest thing is having a positive mindset,” Hill said. “I tell the guys all the time having a positive mindset will set you up for a fast recovery. A lot of guys will get down in the dumps, and don’t necessarily have the right mindset. It kind of holds them back from taking that next step to getting back on the field so that is the biggest thing I preach to them.”
After exploding on the scene against Utah State with a career-high 165 yards rushing and two touchdowns, running back A.J. Ellis missed two games after injuring his toe against Ole Miss. Ellis said he has been impacted by Hill and has taken his advice.
“[I’ve done] everything the trainers have told me to do,” Ellis said. “I went to the store and bought a bucket and I’ve been filling that up with ice and water and have been sticking my foot in that every night. And just all the rehab and everything they tell me to do to try to get back.”
Ellis also acknowledges who has helped him get back on the field.
“I give him [Tony Hill] a lot of credit, he just tells me what to do,” Ellis said. “He gives me all the exercises, everything to get my toe strong.”
Evans is another player who has battled through injuries this year. The redshirt sophomore injured his hamstring earlier in the year and has been trying to play through the pain.
He has gotten back on the field with some extra motivation.
“[I’ve rehabbed by] going in the training room three times a day,” Evans said. “It’s not fun sitting out watching your team. It kind of feels like you are letting [your teammates] down. Deep down you know you want to be out there with your team, so its motivation to go out there to get healthy faster.”
Even though the team has been plagued by injuries, Evans knows that it still hasn’t stopped the way they prepare for each game.
“[Injuries] don’t really hurt the gameplan at all,” Evans said. “People just got to step up and fill their spot in the gameplan. Our backups are going to do the same things as the starters do. That is their time to prove it. I got my first shot because someone got hurt so that’s just how it works.”