A Key to Athletic Success: The John “Doc” Johnson Athletic Training

By John Jackson, Staff Writer

When fans come to watch a Manhattan College sporting event, they watch student-athletes do what they do best for a few hours. What the fans don’t see however, is the preparation that goes into those few hours. Not only do athletes have to practice beforehand, but they have to be aware of their health. One way that Manhattan College student-athletes help themselves stay or get healthy is by taking advantage of the Draddy Gymnasium training center.

The training center, properly known as the John “Doc” Johnson Athletic Training Center, was dedicated to John Johnson upon his retirement after the 2002-2003 school year. Johnson was a trainer for the New York Giants in addition to contributing 56 years with Manhattan College.

The center is open to student-athletes on Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM for general treatments and evaluations. It’s also typically open before and after those hours for games, practices, and other events.

It has been a room that student-athletes have put it to good use. A vast majority of them visit the room each day whether it’s to get tape, to get treatment, grab a bag of ice, grab a band-aid, or check-in with the staff, among other reasons.

“This room is extremely important to them,” said Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and Athletic Performance Doug Straley. “I’d probably say if there’s a couple of places on campus that get the most flow through their facilities per square-footage, [they] would probably be the cafeteria, the library, and this room right here.”

Straley is in his 14th year with Manhattan College. He came to Riverdale for the 2003-2004 school year as the Director of Sports Medicine. In August of 2009 he became the Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine. He was later promoted to his current position in June 2016.

In addition to Straley, the training center has a staff of three full-time athletic trainers and two graduate assistants. David Bueti is the Assistant Director of Sports Medicine and is in his second year with the college. Samantha Gigante and Jaclyn Rettig are the other athletic trainers and they are in their second and first year, respectively. Clementine Guinet and Tyler Hetzel are the two graduate assistants and are both in their first year.

Together the staff works to provide the best prevention care, treatments, evaluation, rehabilitation, etc. for all of 19 Division I teams. The services they provide range from simpler things like taping and stretching to more complex treatments such as electrical stimulation therapy and the Graston Technique. Electrical stimulation is a therapeutic treatment that helps treat muscle spasms and pain. The Graston Technique is tissue mobilization that is conducted with tools.

Everything done by the sports medicine staff is done for a reason. Lots of research goes into each newly implemented program. The staff takes courses to both hone their skills and learn new skills such as the aforementioned Graston Technique.

“Everything I do is what we call ‘evidence-based practice’”, said Straley. “I’m not going to do something unless there is research out there that shows that it works.”

The whole staff works under direct supervision of the four team physicians. Anthony Maddalo, M.D., is an alumnus of Manhattan College and serves as the Chief Medical Officer and team physician. Nicole Solomos, D.O. and Gregg Cavaliere, M.D., are both also team physicians while Brighid Scesny, PA-C, is a team physician’s assistant. The physicians, who are apart of the Hudson Valley Bone and Joint Surgeons, are a great group according to Straley.

“An athletic training staff is really only as good as their team physicians are,” said Straley. “And we have excellent team physicians that work with us.”

Straley also had high praise for many others in the college administration for their interest in the well-being of the student athletes.

“Our administration,” said Straley. “From Dr. [Richard] Satterlee to Marianne Reilly the AD, is really dedicated to student-athlete welfare and to making sure that we can provide the best possible services to our student-athletes to make sure they’re well taken care of.”

Straley has been a constant in the sports medicine department of Manhattan College athletics for a while. The mission of the college and Catholic education have been important factors to him and ones that he takes seriously.

“I’ve been here a long time and people have asked me what’s kept me here so long,” said Straley. “[And] for me it’s the mission of the college. I believe in the mission of the college and Catholic education.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post erroneously listed Sean Sonnemann as the author.