At the end of December, Michael Frawley, assistant athletic trainer and director of sports medicine from 1993 to 2012,
will leave after nearly 21 years of service to the College. After his departure, Frawley plans to continue his education in January of 2014 and study to become a physical therapy assistant.
Witnessing over two decades of change at the College, Frawley has been an integral part of systemic changes regarding student-athlete health. “Many policies have been implemented and revised to keep up with NCAA standards and recommendations,” Frawley said.
Among the most critical policies are those that involve concussions and concussion management. “Our current policy in terms of return-to-play guidelines has been discussed in detail with our physicians, athletic trainers and professionals at the Health Center,” Frawley said, stressing the collaborative work and communication between these different departments. “We’ve found our return-to-play guidelines have worked exceptionally well in returning student-athletes to playing following a concussion.”
The College has also been working with other NESCAC schools to ensure the safety of all student-athletes. Frawley recalls when President Falk spearheaded an initiative for all of the NESCAC schools to convene at the C
ollege about two years ago to discuss academic rest following a concussion and return to academics. “That had never been done before,” Frawley said. “All the athletic trainers and health care personnel from 11 schools were brought here to review concussion policy and management with Dr. [Robert] Cantu, the leading neurologist on concussions in the country.” Frawley stressed that the purpose of this conference was to keep student-athletes performing at a high level in the classroom. “It’s always academics first,” he said. “We want [the student-athletes] in the classroom functioning properly and doing a high level of work.”
While Frawley was involved with administrative policy regarding student-athlete life on campus, he has also developed close relationships with varsity teams throughout the years. Frawley primarily worked with women’s soccer in the fall for 18 years; men’s basketball in the winter for 19 years, although last year he did not
work with the team and focused on winter student athletes on various teams instead; and women’s lacrosse in the spring during his entire career here.
“I’m so proud of their successes, and it’s very rewarding to know that my contributions to their health and safety have a direct role in the success of a team,” Frawley said of working closely with teams. “It’s nice to help a student-athlete from an injury and see them be successful and learn how to face setbacks.”
To Frawley, some of the most rewarding aspects of being an athletic trainer are the personal relationships cultivated with the teams and individual student-athletes. “We’re in a unique role to get to know the student-a
thletes exceptionally well and provide them with our best medical care,” Frawley said. “We’re engaging the students and really getting to know them as people.”
While he fondly reflects on his career at the College, Frawley also looks forward to the future. “I envision myself ending my career feeling fresh and at my best,” he said. “This has really made me realize what I do love about my job and what I’m good at. I’ll miss the student-athletes and my colleagues and friends. I consider them all my friends, really. [The job] opened my eyes as to how to build relationships.” Frawley believes moving forward will allow him to find a better balance between work and personal life. “I’m ready for a new opportunity and a chance to meet new people and try to find that personal balance that I feel is elusive to many of us … I’m excited about what lies ahead,” he said.
Regarding Frawley’s contributions to the College, Assistant Sports Trainer Yasmin Wilkinson said, “Mike has been a selfless provider of welfare for our student-athletes for years … He has always put others first in his efforts to provide a positive experience for both the student-athletes and his workers.”
Frawley happily reflected on his overall career at the College. “I’ve really had an interesting vantage point for a lot of teams and great coaches and great student-athletes. It’s fun to see a team come together … I enjoy that and watching the games and watching them play. And now I’ll hopefully still have a chance to watch them from the sidelines. I’ve had a front-row seat for 21 years. It’s been special,” he said.