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Behind Bowden

FSU Athletic Trainer Randy Oravetz works behind the scenes to keep the Seminoles at the top of the polls
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With two national titles, 13 years among the top four teams in the country and six Atlantic Coast Conference championships in the 1990s, the Florida State Seminoles have the track record to prove they know what it takes to be a champion. It is that knowledge of the means to reach success that has not only fueled FSU's success on the field, but also it's success in the Don Fauls athletic training facility.

Randy Oravetz, the Director of Sports Medicine at FSU, heads up the team behind the Seminoles that has helped keep every FSU squad healthy and on the field. As the primary contact between FSU's medical staff and trainers and FSU coaches, it's Oravetz's job to keep 'Noles athletes healthy enough to keep playing or to help them recover from injuries.

"The role of the sports medicine staff here is to prevent athletic injuries and treat those injuries that do occur," said Oravetz, who was honored by the National Association of Athletic Trainers as the winner of the 1999 National Service Award.

"We try to prevent any injuries that we can, but if injuries arise, we try to take care of it with our medical staff and our doctors."

A program as large as FSU's has plenty of resources available for those athletes who suffer injuries on the football field. Oravetz has six full-time assistant trainers, a large group of student trainers and a seven-person medical staff to help distribute his daily workload to. Oravetz often spends 12-hour days with the football team in season, his day beginning at 8 p.m. and ending 12 hours later, with doctors' visits, x-rays, taping sessions and other duties filling those hours.

FSU's sports medicine program, Oravetz says, often has healthy conversations and an equal relationship with the Seminoles' coaching staff. It is that relationship that makes Oravetz's job easier when he has to break the news of an injury to a star player to a coach and is something Oravetz says is just a notch in the key to a successful sports medicine program.

"I've been on the staff here for 21 years and been to just about every staff meeting we've had," said Oravetz, who has served as FSU's sports medicine director for 14 years. "The coaches here trust what I and my staff have to say about a player when he's injured and they also realize that if the No. 1 player is at 75 percent, a lot of the time the 2nd or 3rd team guy is better to put in there at full strength than risk the guy at 75 percent.

"Overall, we're well-respected by the coaching staff and they let us take care of business how we have to so we can get a guy back out there healthy. Sometimes it might hurt the team to pull a guy out of practice for a day or so if he's got a cold, but in the long run, it's better than having the whole team sick."

While coaching staff's respecting the sports medicine staff's decisions is crucial, Oravetz says that having the administration and players behind the sports medicine staff can make or break trainer's success.

"When you lose that trust from the athletes, the administration and the coaches, it's tough. If they're not sure you're going to help them or if you have conflicts with your doctors and other staff, it makes it hard for others to trust you," Oravetz said. "If you have that respect from all of them, it develops trust between the athlete and coaches and the trainers and things go much smoother."

Trainers and the sports medicine staff can also provide an insight to players' psyches that coaches would not normally be privy to, Oravetz said. Often times, players spend hours a day in the training room and friendships are forged between trainers and athletes, he says. These conversations can provide coaches with an insight into why a player may be lagging or may be mentally behind in drills, Oravetz said.

"They'll come to us in the room and we'll hear about problems they have. Maybe their girlfriend is giving them a hard time or maybe their mom is sick or something," Oravetz said. "Then I can tell the coach, 'hey, the reason he's acting this way is because he's got this or that on his mind.' It gives coaches a better insight into what's going on.

"Sometimes, coaches are coaches and don't totally understand what's going on with the students. We sometimes know what they're facing and struggling with and we can alert them to things like that."

Most of all, Oravetz and his staff know how to deal with all these problems and still keep FSU among the nation's best on Saturday afternoons.

"We know what it takes to be a Top four team and to win two national titles. We understand the dedication it takes," he said. "We instill that in all the athletes here that we're not going to drop down to their level ... they're going to raise themselves to our level. If you're an athlete and you're not being pushed, you're probably not doing all that well. So, we try to push them to that next level."


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