Posted: April 28, 2014 at 1:53 am

By: Alissa Hudak, Makenzie Bristol, Emily Meadows and Kelsey Bartlett

To the West Virginia University athletes he trains, Christopher Worrell is a “glorified mother.”

Along with being a full-time athletic trainer, Worrell is also a full-time listener, advice giver, and companion.

“The girls will come to me about a bad first date, parent problems, school problems,” he said. “There isn’t one thing I haven’t heard. They’ll come in here and sit on my couch and talk like I am their friend or in some cases their mothers.”

Worrell is a trainer for the West Virginia University gymnastics, rifle, tennis, and cheerleading teams. Just like an athlete or coach, most trainers are working day and night to perfect their craft and be ready to compete.

For coaches, it may be drawing up plays or coming up with routines. For athletes, it may be practicing or working out. But for athletic trainers, it is everything in between. The world of athletics could not exist without them, and the average sports fan knows little about how much they mean to the team.

Worrell works nonstop, even when he is not teaching.

“I get here about 8 or 9 in the morning when I don’t teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If I do teach I get here at 7 am. I am here all day doing stuff on the computer entering treatments looking up new things to help the athletes until someone walks in and needs treatments.”

Being an athletic trainer is not your normal nine-to-five day job. Worrell says most people think he works the typical forty hours a week, but it is much more than that.

For gymnastics, an average day can mean getting started in the early morning and finishing up a few hours after practice is over and everyone else is gone.

“I don’t get out of here until 8 or 8:30 if the girls are done with practice at 6:30. We clean everything, write down all of the treatments we did that day, and sometimes girls are still in here getting treatments done from a long day.”

For Worrell, you could say his job doesn’t seem like work because he loves what he does so much. Basic knowledge is that athletic trainers are there to help athletes back to health from injuries, but there is a whole different side to the “job” that is not as well known.

“I can give them everything they could possibly need from contacts, to general medical appointments, to a massage. I take care of everything with the athletes, basically like a glorified mother.”

Friendships aside, Worrell is also really good at what he does. Through working strenuous hours, he automatically knows when his athletes are hurt and what he needs to do. He says his favorite part of the job is bringing them back to full health.

“Seeing them come back from the day they fell, through the surgery, through the recovery and rehab process, that is why I do this job.”

The process to become an athletic trainer comes with a lot of studying, training, learning, and teaching. And for Worrell, he says the job is constantly growing.

“I’m still learning, still thriving to become better, and I love my job. There’s always something new, and always something to learn.”

Discipline and patience are top qualities to become an athletic trainer, but having an interest in the sport and athletes you are working with is the real key to enjoying the job. Worrell fell in love with gymnastics as an undergraduate student when he first started working for the team.

“As an athletic trainer you sign up to be the undercover hero. You don’t get the recognition that anyone else involved with the team gets because you are behind the scenes. Most of the time the people in this profession don’t like being in the spotlight, and that’s perfect.”

After dedicating so much time and knowledge to a team of college athletes, Worrell doesn’t ask for much in return.

“The biggest thing any athlete could do for me is just saying, ‘Thank you.’”