Trainers Storm Super Bowl

Graduates of West Virginia University's athletic training program in the School of Physical Education will be on each sideline during the 41st Super Bowl match-up between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts Sunday (Feb. 4) at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.

Tim Bream is head athletic trainer for the Bears, while the Colts benefit from the services of Erin Barill, director of rehabilitation, Dave Hammer, associate head athletic trainer, and Dave Walston, assistant athletic trainer.

Bream received his master's of science in sports medicine and athletic training from WVU in 1984.

"I'm excited and filled with anticipation about the upcoming (Super Bowl) game," he said, noting that the University's athletic training program provided vital preparation for achieving career goals.

"One important thing I learned at WVU is how to multi-task," Bream added, especially as a graduate assistant athletic trainer with Mountaineer football. "My tenure at WVU gave me a great deal of practical experience - preparing me both academically and professionally. It's a very well-rounded program."

After earning his degree, Bream worked at Syracuse University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Richmond before joining the Bears' as head athletic trainer - a post he has enjoyed for the past 10 years.

Bream credits John Spiker, Greg Ott, Al Johnson and Jack Brautigam with mentoring him when he was at WVU and helping him to get where he is today.

"I'm very proud of our graduates for reaching this level," said Spiker, who is coordinator of athletic medical services at WVU and president of HealthWorks Rehab and Fitness. "I don't know if we've ever had four athletic trainers on the field during a Super Bowl."

The University currently has at least 10 graduates working in the NFL, Spiker noted. All have a great work ethic and are known for their selflessness.

"You have to understand you're not the person in the limelight," said Spiker of athletic trainers. "You have to be the first to come and the last to leave.

"You also need a lot of desire to want to help people, while enjoying the athletic environment. You have to learn everything you can to help athletes achieve their goals. You don't get to the NFL and stay there without that."

WVU's athletic training program was one of the early curriculums in the nation to be accredited, said Vince Stilger, undergraduate athletic training program director. The program is fully accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). Bachelor's and master's degrees are offered. Admission is selective, with up to 15 students accepted annually into the competitive undergraduate program. Currently, the program has 41 students.

"We have several of our alums employed in the NFL," Stilger said. "This speaks to the work ethic, dedication and commitment they've put forward at that level. It also speaks highly of the WVU program. Since 1975, WVU has had an excellent reputation and history of producing good, top-notch athletic trainers."

Barill of the Colts earned two bachelor's degrees from WVU - a secondary education and athletic training degree in 1992 and a physical therapy degree in 1994.

He worked 10 years for Methodist Sport Medicine Center in Indianapolis and has been working four years for the Colts.

"The athletic training program at WVU was instrumental in preparing me for working with an NFL team," Barill said. "This job is something I've always wanted to do, and to be working with a team on its way to the Super Bowl is a dream come true."

Hammer graduated from WVU with a bachelor's in 1982; Walston graduated in 1988 with a master's degree.

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