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GCU Club Sports Medicine Represents at NFL Training Camp

August 22, 2017

By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff

Ankle sprains, shoulder injuries, ACL tears and concussions are all part of an athletic trainer’s daily agenda. To treat the worst, you have to learn from the best. For assistant athletic trainer Richard Lazalde of the Grand Canyon University Club Sports medicine department, he has been doing just that.

Since July, Lazalde has been interning at the Philadelphia Eagles training camp in Philadelphia, Pa. Inside this fast-paced environment, it is non-stop work from morning until night to help make sure the players get the treatment they need.

Dealing with over 100 players and coaches may sound chaotic, but Lazalde wouldn’t have it any other way.

“[It’s] pretty crazy having this opportunity,” Lazalde said. “These athletes are on top of their game. This is what they do.”

The differences between collegiate club sports and professional football isn’t hard to miss. The resources and time commitment the athletes have is much more pronounced at the pro level. But the job Lazalde and the rest of the staff has is exactly the same: keeping the student-athletes healthy and on the field to continue playing the sports they love.

“We’re limited because we’re club, but the treatments are done across the board,” Lazalde said. “It is all the same, we just have different ways of doing it. We push the student-athletes with the ultimate goal of getting better.”

Much like his duties at GCU, Lazalde’s responsibilities at training camp are much more than just refilling water bottles before practice. With the amount of work the players are putting in, Lazalde and the training staff must be ready to match it.

“Before the first player arrives, we’re setting everything up and when the last player leaves breaking it down,” Lazalde said. “Treatments in the morning are for four hours along with pre- and post-practice, walkthroughs, meetings and catching up on administration. I’ve gotten to do so much. It’s an experience in and of itself.”

The participation inside an NFL training camp and knowledge gained by bringing it back to GCU is invaluable. While the resources may be different, the opportunity to learn greater health and wellness techniques and apply them at GCU is vital.

“Being able to have someone work at the highest level, and bring that knowledge back to help student-athletes is huge,” said Jake Aganus, head club sports athletic trainer. “It’s a faster pace and he’s dealing with professional athletes who do this for a living and we can take these techniques back to club sports.”

Aganus had the same experience that Lazalde is receiving with the Eagles. In 2007-08, Aganus was part of the Oakland Raiders training camp learning much of the same as Lazalde.

“NFL training camp is a very fast-paced and high-demand environment,” Aganus said. “Being able to understand how to manage time, on top of managing the rehab programs, with the short amount of time we have for each student-athlete helps, and I think he would really get that from the highest level.”

Working in the athletic training industry is knowing modern techniques for treatment and rehab. As the athletes grow and get better, athletic trainers do the same. For Lazalde to work at the highest level that Aganus spoke of, it gives him the opportunity to see where the industry is and where it is headed.

“From hydration to mental health, it’s staying at the top of our game,” said Lazalde. “Supporting bigger, faster and stronger with our techniques is key.”

No matter where the industry is going, Lazalde knows his job will stay the same. Athletes will work and will get hurt. Injuries are why sports medicine exists. It is making sure the athletes are able to continue working on and off the field that’s the most important detail of the job.

“Everyone on our staff tries to do our best to make their lives easier,” said Lazalde. “If I can leave an impact for a few people, that’s great.”