The athletic trainer’s office at Suffolk is a nondescript room, tucked away in the back corner on the second floor of the Ridgeway building, and is constantly buzzing. This is where Jeff Stone makes a living, and where all 250 of the school’s student athletes know they can go for help with a variety of ailments.
Stone, who is the head athletic trainer at Suffolk, has been a ubiquitous figure at games, practices, and workout sessions during his tenure with the school. If you’ve been to a Suffolk-related sports event, you’ve probably seen him participating in one way or another.
Recently, he was inducted into the Athletic Trainers of Massachusetts Hall of Fame. He has also been a member of the association since its inception in 1981. Stone explained that he nominated or inducted six of the 14 current members of the Hall of Fame.
His arrival at Suffolk came with some familiarity with the program. He knew Athletic Director Jim Nelson, and was happy to become an important member of the staff.
“I wanted to have my own teams again, I wanted to get back into [college athletics],” he said. “I knew I knew the limitations—we don’t have a lot of parking [at Suffolk], we don’t have a lot of fields, but I did that at Framingham State.
“A lot of athletic trainers getting into the business now want it handed to them. I mean you have to be able to improvise.”
Although he is often placed with a pretty heavy caseload, he explained that the athletics staff here at Suffolk is comprised of some pretty hard-working, dedicated individuals who make his life a lot easier. A great nucleus is hard to come by, and is something he is certainly thankful for.
“I respect the athletes. I have a great coaching staff; I’ve got a boss who understands what an athletic trainer does,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of my contemporaries who are battling all the time because they don’t have a say in practice time, or they don’t get a say in what goes on.”
Nelson is someone who has worked well with Stone, and understands the importance of this most recent recognition.
“Jeff’s recognition into the Athletic Trainers Association of Massachusetts is a much deserved recognition for his involvement in athletic training that dates back to his high school years at Ashland High School,” said Nelson. “Jeff is a much revered individual, in not only Massachusetts, but nationwide.”
For many trainers working with inspired, gifted college athletes, it can be a tenuous situation when dealing with injuries to the students and their ability to get back out on the field, court, or ice.
Stone, however, hasn’t had to worry about any confrontations regarding the health of the players. He has the ability to turn over medical issues to a well-respected medical professional.
Peter Asnis, the team doctor for the Bruins, works closely with Stone in terms of injuries to his players. This allows his players to get checked out by a doctor within 48 hours of an injury—something many professional organizations cannot say for themselves.
The environment at Suffolk has enabled him to communicate and work with everyone that walks into his office. He’s always there, willing to make life easier for those in the department.
“The kids are committed. It’s a blue-collar environment, [they] work for what they get,” he explained. “That’s what is sort of intriguing about Division III [athletics]. The biggest thing is, sometimes the kids think they can play when they can’t. You have to know when a kid is injured and when a kid is a hurt.”
He explained that during his tenure he and the coaches have worked hard to ensure that the starting lineups are always out there. It may be a small Division III school, but there is no shortage of responsibilities for him and his staff.
“The coaches understand where I’m coming from, and I think sometimes the athletes may get a little frustrated that I hold [them] back. It’s a small staff, we all know each other, and we all support each other.”
So, while the workspace might not be very large, and the staff might be a bit undersized, Stone does his best to make sure everything goes according to plan, even if that means holding someone back.