Q&A with Head Athletics Trainer Kevin Messey


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Kevin Messey, UCSD's head athletics trainer for the past four years, got his start in the industry by accident.
Kevin Messey, UCSD's head athletics trainer for the past four years, got his start in the industry by accident.
Courtesy: UCSD

While there are many individuals that contribute to the overall success of the UC San Diego Athletics Department, Kevin Messey has the opportunity to make a difference each and every day. As UCSD's Head Athletics Trainer, he works with his staff to keep Triton student-athletes healthy and ready for competition. Whether it's treating an injury, staffing an event, or talking to an athlete about diet and nutrition, Messey can be found in the trenches, working to put the best possible team on the field, court, or in the pool. A 1999 graduate of Missouri State, Messey went on to attend the prestigious Arizona School of Health Sciences, where he earned several of the industries' top certifications. In addition to his experience at the collegiate level, he has worked with the San Francisco 49ers and Giants and also served at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. A certified Graston Technique Provider, he is also an approved clinical instructor for the Athletic Training Education Program at San Diego State. Amidst preparation for his fifth season as UCSD's head athletics trainer and ninth with the department overall, Messey recently took a few moments to answer some questions for UCSDtritons.com.

Q: You are entering your fifth season as Head Athletics Trainer at UCSD. Is there such thing as a typical workday?
A typical day is far and few between, but the best idea of a typical day starts with me arriving at UCSD and heading straight to my office to answer some emails and return some phone calls before I start to treat athletes. Usually during the process of emailing and making calls I stop to help the athletes, as well. The rest of my day is a consistent fluctuation of evaluating injuries, treating athletes, answering emails, and returning phones calls. No day is typical from the perspective that there are always new injuries and changes to current or old injuries.

Q: What is the most common injury you see among Triton student-athletes? Are there any changing trends that you've noticed during your time here?
In my opinion there isn't a common injury with all 23 of our teams, but there are common injuries per sport. We tend to see trends in injuries, meaning we might have five ankle sprains in five weeks and then we may not see an ankle sprain for five months. The saying "when it rains, it pours" seems to hold true for us in many respects. 

Q: Are there certain programs or sports that require more attention than others? If so, why?
There are certain programs that require more attention. This is usually due to the nature of the sport. For example, our contact sports, such as soccer or basketball, tend to need more attention because of the higher incidence of collision and contact.

Q: From your standpoint, what would you say are the biggest keys to being successful on the court, field, or in the pool?
This is a tough question. There are many characteristics that create successful athletes, but from a medical perspective there are a few that standout. In order to succeed, the athlete must obviously be dedicated to their sport and the training necessary to compete at this level, but the component that sets the successful from the less successful is what they do outside of their practice times. This includes strength training, nutrition, psychological management, and physical and mental rest and sleep. These aspects are typically overlooked and play a large part in an athlete's success.

Q: You see many of our student-athletes on a daily basis and get to know some of them better than anybody. What three words would you say best describe Triton athletes?
Dedicated, well rounded, successful.

Q: You have a great relationship with your staff, mainly assistant athletic trainers Tosh Tepraseuth and Vanessa Yang. What makes those two so easy to work with?
In my opinion we have the best athletic training staff you can find. With ever-growing demands, it's challenging to cover nearly 600 athletes with just three full time and two part-time athletic trainers. In any athletic training room, it is very important to have a medical staff that works cohesively. Both Tosh and Vanessa have excellent personalities for this job. They have a great sense of humor, are dedicated, reliable, patient, easy going, and work well with all personalities. Tosh and Vanessa's contributions to the athletic training room and the athletics department overall are more than can be appreciated in words.  

Q: What's the best part about your job working at UCSD?
The best part is seeing the expression on the athletes' faces when they realize that their injury has been resolved and they are ready to return to normal athletic activity. Knowing that we had a lot to do with their return from injury is the most fulfilling part of this job.

Q: You have a degree in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training from Missouri State. When did you know you wanted to get into athletic training?  
I actually fell into athletic training on accident. As an athlete in high school, I was fascinated with the science of the human body and the aspects of athletic performance. I took medical science classes in high school and spent many hours in the weight room outside of my typical practices and games. My high school counselor helped me find a university that had a program called "Athletic Training", which we both believed was related to athletic performance (also known as strength and conditioning at that time). We were wrong and I found out on the first day of school my freshman year when I went to my first class and the professor was outlining the course, which was predominately going to focus on sports medicine. After researching strength and conditioning, I realized that there really wasn't a specific major in that field at that time so I decided to stick with athletic training to see if I liked it. Needless to say, I did like it quite a bit and here I am today.

Q: You have worked with athletes at many levels, including high school and college, while also spending some time in the pro ranks. What's the biggest difference between amateur and professional athletes in the training room?
It's hard to generalize this answer since it depends on the personalities of the athletes.  But to make the best comparison between a successful amateur athlete and a successful professional athlete, I would say that the amateur athlete is much more humble. Both groups work really hard to achieve success at their level, but I think the money and fame is what changes the athlete. When it comes to injuries, not much changes. An ACL tear is an ACL tear, and its up to the dedication of the athlete to complete the rehabilitation properly and thoroughly to have an excellent outcome. 

Q: What advice would you give to any aspiring athletic trainers out there?
Athletic training is a challenging profession. Before you commit yourself to an athletic training program, you should spend at least 300 hours volunteering for your local high school, community college, or four-year college to ensure this is what you want to do. The university athletic training education programs are very intense and require complete dedication to complete them successfully. I would also suggest interviewing a certified athletic trainer at these locations to find out if this is the profession for you. You can also go to www.nata.org to learn more about the profession.

Q: Are there any athletes or coaches you admire? Why?
Albert Pujols comes to mind, partially because I'm a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, but mostly because of what he does off the field. He is a respectable individual, who seems to have good morals and values. In this day and age it's hard to find a superstar that isn't caught up in scandals or negative news in some way. I hope he can keep it up.

Q: Speaking of the Cardinals, St. Louis is two games behind the upstart Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central standings as of this writing. Do the Cards have what it takes to come back and win a second straight division title?
With Albert Pujols they always have a chance!

Q: Where's your favorite place to grab a bite in San Diego?
San Diego has many fine restaurants and excellent food. It's tough to choose just one. If I'm going out for a nice meal, then it has to be Donovan's Steak House. If I'm going cheap and casual, then it's Pizza Port.

Q: If you could splurge on one junk food, what would it be?
Chocolate cookies are my favorite sweet.

Previous Q & A Articles

Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010

Christine Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010

Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010

Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010

Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010

Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010

Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010

Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010

Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010

Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010

Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010

Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010

Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009

Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009

Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009

Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009

David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009

Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009

Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009

Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009

Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009

Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009

Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009

Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009

Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009

Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009

Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009

Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009

Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009

Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009

Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009

Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009

Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009

Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009

Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009

Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009

Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009

Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009

A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009

Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009

Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009

Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009