Back-to-school: Kean's director of sports medicine treats mental and physical health
When the whistle blows, every student athlete wants to be No. 1, and there's always someone there that wants to help.
“When I started athletic training, it was about a knee injury and an ankle injury,” says Denise Wujciak. “It's so much more than that more.”
In all 20 years of Wujciak's career, this year might be the most roles she's ever taken on.
“We're their parent away from home, we're their nutritionist, we're their counselor, we're whatever they need in any point in time,” says Wujciak.
As the director of sports medicine at Kean University, she still can wrap an ankle and treat an ACL injury. But overall health needs some healing too.
“Mental health has become huge in our area, especially with them losing their seasons and losing some of their participation because of COVID,” says Wujciak. “We have to deal with a lot more of that than we have in the past.”
On top of that, there's the transition from one level to the next.
“A lot of our college athletes come into preseason not really prepared for the difference of high school and college sports and they are struggling,” says Wujciak. “Some have left, some are very hurt, so we are working through it.”
Then during the school year add homework, a job and everyday life. It all can become so overwhelming, especially when you're trying to make it to the championship.
“I know my student athletes well enough to be like you're not OK today,” says Wujciak. “What's wrong, and then two hours later -- you were right Denise, I'm not fine. This is what's going on.”
So sometimes a problem on the field isn't just fixed by ice and Band-Aid.