Tournament Time Means Significant Injury Prevention

March Celebrates Nation’s Best Collegiate Basketball Action and “National Athletic Training Month”

DALLAS (March 6, 2003) - Before even hitting the hardwoods this year, the nation’s best men’s and women’s collegiate basketball players were undergoing extensive preparation to ensure their bodies would be in top physical condition to compete at the highest level. As programs vie for a spot in the coveted NCAA® Division I Men’s and Women’s Tournaments this month, team athletic trainers will be stepping up injury prevention, assessment, aggressive treatment and rehabilitation to quickly return the athletes to play. With back-to-back games in such a short timeframe, the student-athletes must be ready to play big-time ball at the "March Madness" level - particularly smaller schools like Gonzaga and St. Johns, which often find themselves up against the nation’s powerhouse schools. "At this time of the year more than ever, it’s imperative we keep a close eye on our players and try to flag any potential injuries as early as possible," said Gonzaga’s Head Athletic Trainer Steve DeLong, ATC. "Every year we have high expectations of being one of the 65 teams in the NCAA Tournament, so we design injury prevention and assessment strategies to help reach our goals. Everyone must be ready to play, and it is our job to make sure that we have a strong and healthy team to put on the court." "There’s no question we’re one of the most talked about small college teams out there,” DeLong added. “But in order for us to be one of the last four teams heading to New Orleans, we must come with our best game – every game – and continue steady, quality prep on our guys so they can be at their best, too." DeLong is one of 30,000 members of the athletic training profession. As a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), he will be joining the other ATCs around the country to celebrate "National Athletic Training Month" during March. This year’s theme - Injury Assessment: The First Step in Treatment & Recovery -will be prominent in local and national promotions planned throughout the country. NATA, based in Dallas, is spearheading National Athletic Training Month with nationwide member support. The annual campaign boosts public awareness about the benefits of the athletic training profession to athletes and physically active people. People interested in learning more about the athletic training profession are encouraged to visit NATA’s Web site at About NATA: Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are medical professionals who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the more than 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research.

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