Sure, athletic trainers must have technical expertise in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries. They need to know about nutrition and hydration. They need to stay on top of the latest trends in the field.
Yet behind every injury is a human being, and knowing the person they are treating is crucial to success.
Kevin Agostini, in his first year as Loomis Chaffee head athletic trainer, didn’t have to look far to learn that lesson. His uncle Mike Kuta, the head athletic trainer at Philips Andover Academy, is in his 43rd year at Andover. When he was a kid, Kevin would spend time on the sidelines with his uncle.
“I admire all the work he has done and having him as my uncle has been the sugar on top,” Kevin said recently from the athletic training offices in the Athletic Center. “When … he is dealing with his athletes, you see how much he cares about them. It’s not just an injury to him, it’s the individual, and that is what I have based my care off of … looking at the individual and getting to know the kids.”
Knowing the athlete helps Kevin to better understand the individual’s injury, Kevin explained, and an athlete who sees that he cares about them as a person will be more motivated to do rehab and take other steps necessary to return to their sport. “That’s what I try emulating from my uncle, be a good person and a good athletic trainer,” he said.
Kevin earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Springfield College in 2016. He was an assistant athletic trainer at Cheshire Academy from 2016 to 2021, when he was named head trainer. In 2022 he was named the Northfield Mount Hermon strength and conditioning coach before coming to Loomis this summer.
There is, of course, no way to eliminate injuries. All the training staff can do is try to prevent them as much as possible. That is where strength and conditioning come into play as well as many other factors, including hydration, nutrition, and proper rest.
Kevin said nutrition might have been undervalued for a while but not anymore.
“It is a key part of performance, a key part of recovery,” he said. “What you put into your body fuels your body.”
Lending emotional support is part of the process, too.
Athletic trainers wear a lot of hats, Kevin said. “At any given moment we may be taping an ankle, but then you have someone walking in who is going through something, and you have to switch the hat,” he said.
You may not be able to feel what the athlete is going through, Kevin said, but you can sense it. “They look a little off today,” he said by way of example. “What’s going on? So, you ask the basic questions that sometimes get them talking if they are dealing with something.”
Kevin is just one of those in the training room who works with the athletes. Jean Sapula and Cassie Black are assistant trainers, and Adrian Stewart ’90 is the head of physical therapy.
When asked what he wished he knew earlier in his career, Kevin talked about learning how to balance a hectic schedule and looking at the big picture, important at a school such as Loomis Chaffee, which has 58 interscholastic athletics teams.
“The most rewarding part of my job and the thing that gets me up and to work on each day is having the opportunity to impact students positively in some way,” he said. “Whether that be taping them before a contest, rehabbing them back from injury, being there when they need support, or just simply having conversations in the athletic training room. Each day is a little different, which makes it fun, and the students always keep you on your toes. They keep me coming back to work every day striving to be my best so that I can help them be their best. When they succeed in their respective disciplines, I get overwhelmed with joy for them because I know how hard they have worked to get to that point.”