Q&A With Head Athletic Trainer Eddie Benion
Aug. 19, 2009
Contact: Martin Rickman
Head Athletic Eddie Benion has seen Cleveland State turn from a league doormat to a McCafferty trophy-winner. Entering his fifth season with the Vikings, Benion uses his job to get to know the student-athletes while keeping them in the best shape to succeed at the Division I level.
Q: What’s your story? How did you come to Cleveland State?
A: I went to an athletic training seminar and met some people I knew from Michigan State who came to me and told me that there was an opening at Cleveland State. I had never heard of Cleveland State in my life, but I looked into it—I always look at legitimate jobs—I had a good job but I always want better.
So I looked it up, applied and got called by Athletic Director Lee Reed and former basketball coach Mike Garland. They did some questions and at the time we were in the middle of the session and one of my players got hurt, so I said “I’ve got to go, I’ll talk to you later, bye.” At the time, I thought I lost the opportunity, but it ended up working out, they called me in for an interview and I got the job.
Q: What is the favorite part of your job?
A: I tell people all the time I love making Gatorade and I love taping ankles. As I’m making the Gatorade I really put my heart into it. I can do different colors and different flavors. In regards to the taping, it’s a session where I can show my skill and I can get to talk. The athlete is going to be there for at least a minute and a half and I can get all kinds of information out of him.
Q: What is the strangest injury story you’ve had in your time as a trainer?
A: The strangest is probably…I had a tennis player who woke up and she couldn’t walk. She woke up and she couldn’t walk. We had no idea and we went through all kinds of testing to try and figure out what was going on. After a week or two, it was fine. She started walking earlier, but she had pretty much lost a lot of strength and we couldn’t understand why. There were no nerve issues, but we waited it out and it came back. It was one of those situations where you really don’t know what this is because she didn’t sustain an injury.
Q: Run me through your day
A: I come in and I always have a list of stuff that I write down. Sometimes I even call myself at night to make sure and take care of it when I get into work. I try to take care of those key points as I go through my day. There’s administrative work that has to be done whether it is ordering supplies, checking on insurance matters or calling a parent. I do that all and then eventually midday I see the student athletes. Treatments, therapy and then eventually pre-practice and practice situations. After practice I do post-practice treatments and then I go on home.
Q: What are you looking forward to this year?
A: In regards to men’s basketball season I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ve brought in. Last year, we had five really good seniors and we taught them what we needed over a two year period. So now, do we have to go through the same thing again where we have to teach them what they need, or will they get it right away and we’ll continue our success?
The other sports as well…I was here when we really struggled…but the last two years have been a ball. I feel like a college senior, where it finally clicked and we got it where we wanted it and now I’m graduating. The year before, the bulk of our sports did well and we won the McCafferty, and last year we still had success, but at the end the men’s basketball program put the school on the map. That’s exciting.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone looking to stay healthy and reach their peak performance level?
A: The advice I give them is to know their body. Pay attention to their body. And also, pay attention to how you utilize the body; what you put into the body. They say your body is your temple, I agree to a certain degree. We need to take care of these things, especially when they develop.
I’m not saying be weak or soft, but be smart about them. A lot of times we’re careless in what we do and our mind state in regard to our body. A kid can turn a minor injury into a major injury because they didn’t take care of something that could have easily been taken care of. Pay attention to what your coaches tell you in regards to stretching and warmups; pay attention to what the athletic trainers tell you in regards to what is major and what is minor; pay attention to what the strength coaches tell you on how to make this muscle group stronger.
Q: Is there any new technology or advances that you are excited about?
A: There are a lot of different products that are presented at conferences. I like things that look at rehab in a different way. There are a lot of machines that are more functional or portable in regards to treatment or therapy. They cost us money, but for the long haul they are better.
There is a device now that is a micro-vibrating machine that shakes you, but while you’re on it you can stretch further and you definitely tell the difference. It is a way of shaking the tissues and getting you loose—before, during or after the game. It costs money, but it is used by the professional teams in the area. I look to get a machine like that in the next two to three years.
Q: What is the most common injury you see?
A: The ankle sprain is the most common injury in all the sports we work with. Some of them are more unique; you may not get an ankle sprain in golf, but you can. Last year, we had a player who wasn’t playing golf when he hurt it, but it affected his game. So we had to do the therapy for six to eight weeks before he was able to participate at the level that he needed, but we got him there and he did enough to help the team win the conference tournament.