A familiar face to the Pacific football team will now become familiar to all 24 varsity sports. Director of Athletics, Ken Schumann picked Eric Pitkanen to be the new head athletic trainer from a nationwide search.
Pitkanen was hired on to Pacific as an athletic trainer in 2010, specifically for the football team.
As of July 24, he is in charge of injury evaluations, allowing athletes to return to the field after an injury, practice coverage and managing physical therapy for every sports team.
“I’m going to manage my time so every sport feels the same as football does,” said Pitkanen. “I met with every coach and explained, ‘I’m not going to cheat your sport.’”
With trust being one of the biggest components to success for Pitkanen, he said he plans to assign one athletic trainer to a team for the season.
“It takes liberties. If your athlete doesn’t trust that you have their best intentions in mind, it doesn’t work,” said Pitkanen. ”
The goal he said is to integrate the training staff with the coaches.
“We show that we are into their sport,” said Pitkanen. “We show we care. I’m part of the team. ”
Trainers will also know how far they can push the athletes they cover in therapy. The athletes have a regular to go to if they need help, explained Pitkanen.
Pitkanen said he runs his staff like they are in a Division 1 program because he’s a “D1 guy.” He worked with the Denver Broncos as a training intern during the 2009 season. He also worked as an athletic training intern at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University where he graduated in 2007. That same year he received his professional certification from the National Athletic Trainers Association.
Pitkanen’s master’s degree is in community health from Portland State University where he graduated in 2009. He is also certified in Kinesio taping, which uses elastic therapeutic tape to treat athletic injuries and physical disorders.
In addition to football, Pitkanen has experience being the trainer for women’s soccer, wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s tennis.
Another part of his role now is to make sure the trainers are happy, he said.
“If the staff is happy, the coaches will be happy and the student athletes will follow,” said Pitkanen. “We all cover everything.”