The Man Behind The Tape

Duke basketball trainer Jose Fonseca is one of the people primarily responsible for the team's success. We sat down with him to chat about his role within the program.

At a guess, basketball athletic trainer Jose Fonseca estimates the basketball team uses close to 1,000 rolls of tape every year, but he says there really is no way to tell. In his office, he has access to eight different kinds of tape. This summer, he ordered more than 900 cases of tape for the entire athletic department. Players pop in and out of his office throughout the day, and Jose always starts with the same question: "How are you feeling today?"

He likes to keep the mood relaxed and schedule loose in the offseason. Players face enough stress during the season. Perhaps the hardest part of Jose's job is dealing with competitive college students who want to play at the highest level. He says deciding when to send players back out to play and when to keep them off the court is a big balancing act, but keeping players healthy is personal.

"I try to think about it as if they were my kids," he said. "I try to let those guys know that, that I take this whole thing not as a business, it's personal for me. For me I look at it as how can I get this guy back on the court as quickly and as safely as possible."

These close relationships with players have led to nicknames, and Jose laughs as he recalls them. He can't even remember them all.

"There's a lot of nicknames I guess," he said with a smile. "Lately they've been calling me Jo-sweezy [pronounced Ho-sweezy]"

"Everybody calls me whatever, with a name like Jose, you can imagine…Jos, Josby, it runs the gamut."

Currently, "Jo-sweezy" is dealing with recoveries from surgery (Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, Marshall Plumlee and Josh Hairston) plus Rodney Hood's recent Achilles injury. When you add in the nicks and scratches that are a part of any practice, this summer has kept Jose busy. He says everyone is coming along great, and he doesn't see any complications.

"Basketball needs 24/7 around the year, around the clock attention," he said.

The man charged with keeping Duke players healthy has been called a miracle worker by some in recent years. Yet he is always quick to point the praise where he says it belongs: the players who are incredible athletes.

"They make us look good," he said and laughed. "It's great to have a great piece of artwork to start with, instead of having to start with finger paint…The team that I have, myself and Nick Potter [assistant director of rehabilitation] together, if you give us a chance, more often than not we are going to come out on top."


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