Trainers’ relationship with sports teams proves crucial


Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia

Allison Podborny stretches out an injured DePaul men’s soccer player during a contest against Villanova on Friday, Sept. 20 at Wish Field.

With the sports industry as entertaining and lucrative as it is, the people who help keep the product on the field are a key part of how it all functions. Trainers work often far away from the spotlight, but play a huge role in sports teams at all levels. 

The profession has been steadily growing for the past decade, as more medical attention is given to athletes’ bodies in the modern era. This has become an enticing field for many young athletes who want to stay around the world of sports. A cross between sports knowledge and body sciences, the educational field for the profession has grown significantly

DePaul has a few of its own graduate assistant athletic trainers who perform valuable work for the school’s athletic teams.

Mallory Gizowski previously attended Carroll University in Wisconsin, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She now works across the athletic department with the women’s soccer team, men’s and women’s tennis team and the men’s golf team. She does all of this while pursuing s a master’s degree in the sports, fitness, and recreational leadership program. Gizowski was decisive in her choice to work as a graduate assistant saying, “Once I graduated from Carroll, I knew I wanted to continue my education and get my master’s degree.” 

Allison Podborny, another graduate assistant and athletic trainer at DePaul, attended Northern Illinois University where she received her bachelor’s degree. She gained internship experience at the University of Alabama as well as the University of Florida before choosing to further her education at DePaul.

Both Podborny and Gizowski were attracted to DePaul for its proximity to home. Podborny added that she was excited for the opportunity to work with the men’s soccer team., “Everyone who saw me was very family-oriented and I really liked that,” she said. 

Although the two report to head athletic trainer Sue Walsh, they have a good amount of autonomy. At this point in their studies, they are comfortable being independent on the field.  “I don’t necessarily need to confirm everything I do with my athletes, but certain situations I do,” Gizowski said. 

Though they do not always need much assistance, Podborny said the resources are there if they need them, between multiple assistant trainers and a readily available Walsh.

Some student-athletes have spent more time with Podborny and Gizowski than they may have liked due to injury. Athletes like Joshua Bowser, senior midfielder and defender for the men’s soccer team, know the feeling. He recently suffered from some aggravated muscles which have built-up fluid. 

Athletic trainers are supposed to make a bad situation manageable. Bowser said that his experience with athletic trainers has been nothing but positive. Trainers need to be open and honest with athletes about their condition.“They’re always honest about what they can do for you and will refer you to another doctor if that’s what you need,” Bowser said.

Bowser believes that this honesty has helped build trust between trainers and the players, instilling faith that they are doing all they can to get athletes healthy and back on the field. He had minimal interaction with the athletic trainers prior to this year as he had avoided injury. 

Podborny accompanies the team to all games and her attentiveness provides a sense of security to the players on the field.

These athletic trainers constantly help to mend an assortment of injuries. Gizowski said there is a wide variety of injuries she deals with, and the most prevalent involve the knee, hip flexor, hamstring and shin splints. Podborny identified sprained ankles as a very common injury across all teams she works with.

Both Podborny and Gizowski are hoping to continue in sports medicine at a Divison I university college after obtaining their master’s degrees. Specifically, Podborny wants to work with a football team. 

As they work toward the next steps in their careers, these athletic trainers are training to provide valuable care to student-athletes at DePaul. The sports many love to watch rely on the work of trainers like Podborny and Gizowski. 

Working with trainers throughout this process has opened Bowser’s eyes to all the work these graduate assistants put in. “They really do a lot that most of the time goes unnoticed,” he said. “It would be nice if they got some more appreciation.”