While the crowds are cheering and athletes are giving their all during games, athletic trainers are always on the sidelines, carefully watching out for any injuries that might occur.
Tyler Dopheide, an athletic trainer for the football team, and Kylea Sheley, an athletic trainer for the women’s basketball team, are two USD employees who exceed their job descriptions.
These trainers aren’t only there for the injuries, but also to support their athletes.
Many trainers become involved in the field because of their love for sports, which is exactly why Dopheide and Sheley decided to become trainers.
Dopheide said he suffered a major injury as a high school athlete, which sparked his interest in athletic training. After he went through the rehabilitation process, he decided that he didn’t want to see any other athletes having similar experiences, which propmted him to consider a career in athletic training.
Dopheide has been on the athletic training staff at USD since the 2014-15 season. He started as the assistant athletic trainer and has since moved to head football trainer.
Sheley’s start in the field was a bit different from Dopheide’s.
“I grew up in a small community where playing sports at the next level was never going to be an option for me, but I really had an enjoyment of helping other people, whether that be kind of coaching or mentoring people in the classroom,” she said. “I kind of always knew that I wanted to just help people, so I kind of combined the two loves and found athletic training was going to be a good fit for me.”
Sheley has been on the athletic training staff at USD since the summer of 2015. She works primarily with women’s basketball, but also works with football and softball athletes.
The work atmosphere
USD’s athletic trainers dedicate their time to student
Sheley said that in a typical day of work, they see athletes that are ill and determine if they’re able to practice, tape athletes before practices and games, complete pre-practice and pre-game treatments, post-practice and post-game treatments and keep an eye out for different tendencies with the athletes during practices and games.
They’re constantly on the lookout for any injuries that might happen.
“If we’re there and we can see the injury occur, we can better treat it,” Sheley said. “So it’s really crucial for us to be present for practices, conditioning activities, as well as games.”
Sheley said she loves her job, but she especially enjoys getting to work with such great people.
“This is my family here and our student athletes are really special. They’re very well-rounded individuals,” she said. “I mean, they’re wonderful athletes, but most of them are even better people, so I really enjoy actually just the social interaction of my job.”
Brandon Colpitts, a junior physical education major and defensive back on USD’s football team, and Caitlin Duffy, a fifth-year history and criminal justice double major and point guard for the women’s basketball team, have both been treated for their injuries, and said they consider their trainers friends.
“(Sheley’s) not only great at her job, but she’s a great person, so it’s just awesome to work with her because I feel like I consider her a friend in a lot of ways too,” Duffy said. “I think that is so much more fun and helpful when you’re trying to do something to work with someone like that.”
Dopheide said in his first year of being a USD graduate assistant, a basketball player tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), and he had to walk that athlete through the whole
“Fortunately, that athlete is still currently playing. He’s a professional basketball player overseas,” he said. “That was my first big injury, and it’s something that turned out really well and it’s a great story.”
Colpitts said he thinks Dopheide does his job well.
“(Dopheide) is always determined to get you back on the field and ready to go again,” he said.
Duffy has had similar experiences with Sheley, she said.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries since I’ve been here, and especially with my ankle this season, she’s worked with me almost every single day — like rehabbing and stuff. But she’s been so much more than that for me,” she said. “When I get down because I can’t play, she’s always there to lift me up and help me in more ways
Colpitts said he thinks highly of Dopheide.
“As an athlete you never want to be injured, and you want to get back on the field as fast as possible, but you want to do it in a timely and respectful manner to that injury,” he said. “I think he did a really good job and does a really good job of that so that when you are back, you’re actually healthy and not making dumb decisions and risking yourself more.”
Duffy said she’s very appreciative of everything Sheley does for her.
“She’s just been a shoulder to cry on and has kept me motivated and inspired to want to get better,” she said. “Just always having a smile on her face as she’s working with me and keeping me excited to keep wanting to work hard
and get better.”