Ryan Grebner isn’t a player, or a coach, but his impact on the DePaul Blue Demons women’s softball team is positively immeasurable.
Normally, a team’s athletic trainer will work exclusively with the players who are rehabilitating from an injury, but Grebner’s dedication to fitting in as a member of the group has almost superseded his primary role as a support staff member. In fact, outfielder Angela Scalzitti acknowledges that his goofy and uplifting personality contributes immensely to the positive mood around the team.
“Ryan’s energy is awesome. He works so closely with us between practice and helping us rehab. He’s on the road with us all the time. So we know him very well. I think he just brings a lot of energy to the team, and he keeps us loose,” she said.
The sophomore also praised Grebner’s athletic ability, and the effort he puts forth on the field during practices as an on-field participant.
“He’s very athletic. He’s played baseball before, so it’s fun to watch him in practice because he goes all out,” Scalzitti added.
But the players who work with him one-on-one to recover from injuries believe he brings a tremendous breath of support and positivity to them during such adverse personal situations.
“We have rehab every day. It helps that he’s played baseball and that he’s athletic. He’s awesome, and he really genuinely cares. He came with me to every doctor appointment, and he was there for the surgery, and he’s met my mom. So it was nice to see someone who actually cares that much, because he really doesn’t have to,” explained, Sabrina Kuchta, whose been sideline for the majority of the season with damage to her MCL.
To the average fan, it might not be clear as to how much responsibility an athletic trainer has in terms of caring for the players on a daily basis.
“So, for me I’m the athletic trainer, any medical needs that they have, injury related, sports psychology, any illness, contacts and glasses, pretty much the whole realm of any health related issue that they need assistance with. I’m the advocate that’s supposed to help them with said issue,” explained Grebner.
And although he is currently thriving with the Blue Demons in his role as an athletic therapist, he admits that he was also a promising athlete prior to launching his career as a trainer.
“I was a three-sport athlete, basketball, baseball, and football. I got hurt one season, playing basketball, and I dislocated my shoulders. One happened, and then when I returned back to basketball the other happened. I spent a lot of time with our athletic trainer at our high school. That’s how I got into the profession,” he said.
Had Grebner not spent so much time with athletic trainers himself, perhaps he wouldn’t be in the position he is in today. But he doesn’t regret his choice to work with athletes, and he highlights that the 2018 edition of the women’s softball team is an absolute pleasure to work with.
“Getting to work with them and knowing how together they are as a team. They all have a good relationship within the team and they both work together towards the same goal. I don’t think they’re separated in any way, they all know they’re aren’t here for individual statistics, they’re here for the team,” said Grebner, who like DePaul’s softball players, is also a student and understands how busy the athletes are. Fortunately for him though, he never has to physically attend classes.
“My master’s degree is all online, which is really helpful. I can go to practice and travel all the time, I can do homework from anywhere as long as I have internet. For me, it’s a lot of time management stuff. Essentially I have the same schedule as an athlete,” he acknowledged.
Maybe the most important aspect of Grebner’s job with the women’s softball team, is likely his communication with head coach Eugene Lenti’s staff on a regular basis. Grebner said that a lot of information is constantly being passed on from him to the coaches.
“I give them information what their player’s status is throughout the week. How they’re feeling, how they’re progressing with an injury, an assessment I did and what I found. I give them an array of knowledge of how the team is feeling as a whole to help them decide who is going to play, how effective are they going to be on the field. So that’s communication with the coaches, I tell them how their kids are feeling on a certain day,” Grebner offered.
Despite being extremely busy juggling school, and the many hours he spends with the Blue Demons, Grebner feels bonded by the fact that both he and the players have such busy schedules.
“I think it’s making me a better trainer as a whole because I’m trying to multi-task and try to do it at a high-level, as a master student and be a good athletic trainer for the team. It’s hard, but just like the kids, they do it; they push hard, and they’re successful.”