An In Depth Look with an Athletic Trainer with the Chicago Cubs

An In Depth Look with… Chuck Baughman, MS, LAT, ATC

Describe your setting:
With the Chicago Cubs Organization, I design and implement rehabilitation programs for all players and staff who have suffered an injury that affects their on-field availability. I work out of the spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona and work 12 months out of the year.

How long have you worked in this setting?
I began the rehabilitation setting in the off-season of 2005.

Describe your typical day:
Depending on the time of year, I typically begin my day a couple of hours prior to the players arriving. The first part of my day is responding to e-mails and phone messages that I received from the following evening. I look over the rehab plans for the day and make any corrections that need to be made. Athletic training facility prep includes making ice towels (bags), rolling ace wraps and prepping the hot and cold whirlpools for use. After the athletic training facility is prepped, I meet with the Strength and Conditioning Coach to go over the day’s schedule and any other changes that were made to a rehab plan.

Once the players arrive for treatment, all hands are on deck. Players will begin with some type of active warm-up prior to treatments. If players are completing a throwing program that day, I observe or participate in the program as needed. I work alongside a pitching coach that specializes and works with the players on rehab to ensure proper throwing mechanics are being used. At some points of a throwing program we will utilize video to go over mechanics.

After throwing or conditioning programs, I work with the athletes on mechanics and corrective exercises in their rehab programs. Following the programs each player obtains post-treatment.

What do you like about your position?
My position allows me to work with many types of personalities. Some people just always keep you on your toes. We (patients and staff) have a lot of fun during the day and it breaks up the monotony that rehab sometimes gets. Satisfaction comes from taking an athlete pre-surgery all the way to the major leagues.

What do you dislike about your position?
This position often requires a lot of hours and time away from home and family. Your family needs to be understanding and accepting of your position. During the baseball season, it is not uncommon to work seven days a week for 10+ hours a day.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young Athletic Trainer looking at this setting?
I became a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer (AT) through the internship route. I spent a lot of hours in the athletic training facility and conversing with my mentor, Jeff Etherington. I also spent a lot of time working with other ATs and orthopedic surgeons. My advice to younger ATs is not to be afraid to put in more than is required. Eventually, your extra work and dedication will become noticed and rewarded, both professionally and mentally.

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