The training room: nobody wants to be here

Mick Barnes-Pace ’24 completes workout in weight room to prevent injury

After a long day in school, you are ready to head out to practice… but can’t.

You have suffered an injury, which means you can’t just walk from the locker room to Sabol Field. Before you walk through the doors that lead you to practice, you first must take a stop in a room nobody wants to be in. 

Jerseys from the previous year’s teams hang from the ceiling. 

Football players, lacrosse players, basketball players, and other student-athletes. They’re familiar with the scene. They all have, at one point or another, spent time in the training room. 

Next to the door, a board holds pictures of the worst injuries the room has seen.

The feelings of nausea, nervousness, and fear are palpable in the air.

Five training tables fill up quickly. Three on the left side, two on the right. 

A computer sits on the table next to the office. Everyone is supposed to sign in. Few do. 

3:15 hits and the madness begins. 

 Student-athletes come in to get taped, get treatment for a preexisting injury, or have a quick conversation before heading out to practice. 

“The room is different when many people come in—it does not feel as lonely.”

The room is different when many people come in—it does not feel as lonely.

Athletic trainers Mr. Bill Wardle and Mr. John Warner take control of the chaos. It’s organized chaos. 

Mr. Wardle has more than 30 years of athletic training experience, while Mr. Warner is a relative rookie.

The combination of experience and youth balance each other like yin and yang. They form a dynamic duo.

“Take a seat at one of the tables, and we’ll get you situated,” Mr. Wardle says to one student-athlete.

“What can I do?” Mr. Warner says to another.

The two of them are in their element. They take care of every student-athlete in the room with efficiency and care.

Even while taping ankles, wrists, and shoulders, they ease everyone’s nerves through light conversation.

“We believe that trust and the relationship we have with the kids is what makes this room so effective.”

Mr. John Warner

“We believe that trust and the relationship we have with the kids is what makes this room so effective,” Mr. Warner says.

Any day you can hear someone ask for “Dr. John.” “Dr. John” is a nickname for Mr. Warner for his doctor-like precision taping ankles or wrists. 

Mr. Wardle laughs this nickname off, saying, “He is not a doctor!”

A student-athlete jokingly says “This sh** hurts!” while doing an exercise. Everyone laughs and points to the swear jar tucked away in the corner of the room. Everyone knows the protocol when someone curses. 

Once the pre-practice rush dies down, all the taping finished, Mr. Warner and Mr. Wardle focus on the injured athletes by giving them their exercises for physical therapy.

“Three sets of ten shoulder raises,” Mr. Warner says to a student-athlete recovering from a shoulder injury.

“Four sets of six balance passes,” Mr. Wardle says to another.

The student looks lost.

Out of nowhere, Mr. Wardle performs his version of the exercise. 

This is the type of excitement that Mr. Wardle brings to a rather gloomy job. Mr. Wardle can bring joy to a person who is going through recovery’s mental and physical struggles.

“It’s the people that make the training room what it is.”

Billy Brosko ’23

Sixth Form football and wrestling captain Billy Brosko said, “It’s the people that make the training room what it is.” 

The training room is one of Haverford’s special communities.

You don’t apply to join. The community picks you. 

The initiation begins with the first injury. It does not have to be a serious injury. Maybe just a sprained ankle.

The next step is the recovery process.

A couple of physical therapy sessions after school.

The injury is then healed, but you still come back to the room.

Why do people go to a place where so many people are injured? Why do people go back after being healed from an injury?

So often, people go where they feel accepted. A place where there are people that understand and sympathize with a situation an injured athlete is going through. That place is the training room.

People return to repay the debt this room has given them. Mr. Warner and Mr. Wardle have created a space for student-athletes to support student-athletes. 

“We try to celebrate the little accomplishments in the recovery process,” Mr. Warner says, “By doing that, we boost the morale of the student-athlete and continue to push him forward along the road to returning to play.” 

“We try to celebrate the little accomplishments in the recovery process.”

Mr. John Warner

This community pushes each other, cares for each other, and is there for each other for each step of the recovery process.

Sixth Form training room community member Sean Dugery says, “We are extremely lucky to have a place at Haverford as athletes where we can go and be supported.”