Football is undoubtably a dangerous sport. With every crushing blow, players can suffer pulled muscles, torn ligaments and life-threatening injuries. Along side the 11 Bronco players on the field is another team led by head football trainer Jim Spooner, who works tirelessly to maintain and restore the health of the Boise State football team.
Spooner graduated from Boise State in 2001, and was drawn back to the university by Assistant Athletic Director and head Athletic Trainer Marc Paul. He worked for Paul at the University of Nevada, and was asked to leave New Mexico State to join the Boise State team of athletic trainers in 2011.
The move was an easy choice for Spooner since he is originally from Boise, Idaho. Before the construction of the new Gene Bleymaier Football Complex, Spooner and his team were forced to use an undersized, inadequate, 1,200 square foot athletic training room.
Now, Spooner and his team are able to treat up to 14 players at one given time — athletic training students also help with rehabilitation — instead of the five or six players they were able to treat at one time in the old facility. The football team consists of 108 players, each needing care throughout the season.
“Before, guys just didn’t have the patience or time to sit and wait for a table to open up,” Spooner said. “They would say: ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’ll just put some ice on it.’ Now we have the ability to service a lot more of the student athletes at one time.”
The new athletic training room touts some of the most advanced technology in sports medicine, including a hydrotherapy room. The facility isn’t exclusive to the football team, either. Spooner explained that many of the other teams on campus are taking advantage of the unique resources available in the football complex.
With the assistance of new equipment, athletic trainers are able to quickly and efficiently work with athletes to get them back on the field or court. Spooner explained that rehab with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears has drastically improved after moving to the new facility.
“The equipment that we’ve got in here now has allowed us to do so many things differently, especially on some guys with ACL rehab,” Spooner said. “We’re going to do things a lot earlier and maybe be a little more aggressive with their conditioning.”
Athletic trainers are often on the frontline of tragedy for athletes, experiencing each players lowest (and most painful) moments. At Boise State, the threat of losing a roster spot because of an injury isn’t an issue, making Spooner’s job —and the other athletic trainers’ jobs — much easier.
Uniformly, Boise State does not withdraw scholarships from injured student athletes.
“The coaches are always behind these guys,” Spooner said. “If I did have to worry about that, it would make it more stressful on how you would approach things — you want to give these kids every opportunity you can to get back.”
Behind every athletic team is another team of talented, passionate athletic trainers making sure each and every student athlete receives the best preventative and responsive care available. Spooner, along with his team, are the people who have made the legacy of Bronco football possible.