Eight months into his role as the head athletic trainer at Case Western Reserve University, Tom Monagan had his first opportunity to work at an athletic competition last weekend when the softball team returned to action. It had been over a year since he last attended an event in his previous role at Colorado College.
“It was great to see the student-athletes back on the field and the coaches coaching and doing the things that they love to do and participate in,” he said. “It was great to be outside and experience those things again.”
But even though the athletics schedule had been blank for a year, Monagan has been hard at work since starting his role in July, mid-pandemic. After contributing to his previous institution’s COVID-19 plans, Monagan began meeting with the CWRU team in June to help shape the university’s approach for a return to athletics.
Despite 24 years of experience as an athletic trainer in collegiate sports and professional baseball, Mongan had to re-envision every detail of what it means to put healthy athletic teams on the field, court or track. In addition to being responsible for preventing injuries and coordinating care for varsity athletes, Monagan had to collaborate with Sara Lee, executive director of Health and Counseling Services, to ensure safety for student-athletes and the community during the pandemic.
A multitasker by nature, Monagan has led his team through a number of considerations, including NCAA protocols, university requirements and more. He had his team of three athletic trainers rework many of their protocols and add others, like enforcing social distancing and tracking athletes who were in quarantine and isolation.
But despite the added pressure to his role, Monagan hasn’t flinched.
“He’s a joy to work with. I’ve never seen anyone with such an upbeat personality under stressful circumstances,” said Amy Backus, the James C. Wyant Director of Athletics and chair of physical education. “[Monagan] always will provide a smile, a reassuring word to both students and coaches during this really, really tough year. He just is a real steady and confident voice for all of us. Nothing seems to flummox him.”
In addition to overseeing the health and safety of the varsity athletics teams, Monagan has been involved in conversations with Undergraduate Student Government about intramural and club sports. He also is the academic advisor for the sports medicine minor.
Now, as sporting activities begin to resume, Monagan is responsible for making sure his team is safe and able to have time off, an added challenge as even sports typically considered off-season in the spring are able to return to play.
And, looking ahead, fall sports are already on the horizon. Monagan hopes there will be some semblance of normalcy once those begin in August.
“Over the last seven, eight, nine months, I think we tackled a lot of things, put a lot of things in place to make things more safe and now we’re reaping those benefits,” he said.
We look forward to seeing what Monahan and everyone involved with Spartan athletics continue to accomplish this year.