Patients of the Office: The Trainer's Community

Stephanie Schloss ’26 in Features | December 9, 2022

All of a sudden, you feel the pain. Your lunge was stretched too far. Your overhead catch landed funny. Your chronic study hall slouch starts to catch up on you. Your ankle has rolled again. You slipped and fell, and all is unwell. What do you do when your body hurts? There’s no teacher to visit during consultation, and you have no prefect to talk to, but you can’t stay up late and try to figure out alone what needs to be done with the injury. So you go to the trainers. 
The athletic trainers are the backbone of Lawrenceville Athletics. You walk in without an appointment hoping something can be done, and you tell your story, your play, your move—how everything went wrong. Then, the trainers give you a long spiel involving complicated anatomical terminology before they hand  you the news. No practice for a bit…come and see me daily…let’s start on some heat. In hopes of curing the aching and stinging pain, you’ll be doing exercises made for a toddler learning to crawl. Life feels like it just started over again: your routine is new, and none of your friends play your new sport. How can things be so topsy turvy? For countless afternoons during my II Form Fall Term, my sport has been in the training office. Amidst trying to navigate Lawrenceville, a space designated for physical ailments turned into a place of community. Why? When people find refuge, they bond and can make the best of it together. I wondered how other patients feel in the space, and whether students actually use Sentinel to reserve an appointment—so I asked around. 
Did you know motorized vehicles are allowed in the training room? If you go to Lawrenceville, you’ve most likely spotted Weber Emery ’24 riding around on his notorious scooter, also known as The Golden Avenger. The training room is like his second home; he comes for almost two hours every day, creating a lifestyle that revolves around his injury. Emery said that his “reserved bench” is his ideal spot to be in “the work zone” and to “pick up the news.” At the trainers, he finds a balance between working and socializing. He also jokingly said that seeing “the regulars and the randos with ankle sprains” talking up athletic trainers Andrew Kukla and Michael Goldenberg H'96 '97 P'05 '10  about taking elevators and getting pity points sums up his experience. Since Emery is expected at the trainers’ daily and, his absences from Sentinel usage are excused. 
Brooke Bartlett ’26 comes in for around five hours each week to train. Attending is part of her routine and is essential to her recovery. Even though she couldn’t play a Fall Term sport, exercising and socializing gave her the equivalent experience of bonding with Upperformers. She describes the community as lively, and she enjoys watching sports practices and listening to “entertaining random conversations” while doing her exercises. Bartlett diligently uses Sentinel. 
For the upcoming season, Marlow Mellquist ’25 will be coming to the athletic training room. To cope with her injury, she has been exploring opportunities at Lawrenceville that she would not have otherwise pursued. This includes the first floor handicap room of her dorm! So far, she is “neutral but with no negative feelings” towards her time spent at the trainers’ because the environment is friendly. She’s met students she wouldn’t have otherwise connected with and can always find someone with whom to talk. Mellquist is careful to book appointments beforehand to prevent the wrath from the athletic trainers. 
George Northup ’23 is a faithful member of the training community. He describes the space as “less tense than the doctor’s,” further explaining that there are no barriers between the athletic trainers and their patients. In fact, he could not speak more highly of the athletic trainers, explaining how they have taught him how to optimize his athletic performances. Even though it is challenging to fit training time into his schedule while playing a sport, he deems it a necessary part of his week. Part of his motivation comes from the conversations with other patients and the athletic trainers, like one about what works can be considered as nonfiction reading. From Kukla’s Pandora music selections to sharing the space with his lacrosse friends, he makes the best of it. Unfortunately, Northup has never used Sentinel to book an appointment. 
Being in physical therapy is like being in a pass-fail class. If you diligently do what the athletic trainers say, you will heal and pass. But it is easy to pass. In order to feel like you deserved an ungraded A, be all-in and make connections with other people and the athletic trainers. My first day, I walked in and out of the room feeling stressed, but now, whether or not I walk in with a smile, I always leave with one. There’s a good chance that sometime while you’re at Lawrenceville, the trainers’ office may be a part of your daily routine. If you have to be there, it will definitely not be as bad as you think. In fact, you may even come to enjoy it. But most importantly, make sure you sign up with Sentinel.