Every successful team needs its members to fulfill their roles. For AJ Flemming, a student athletic trainer, that role happens to be the little things.
“It’s just a lot of water and ice,” Flemming said. “It’s pretty easy. It’s pretty fun. I’ve enjoyed my time doing what I’m doing.”
The more specific duties of his job include wrapping ankles, getting supplies, filling water bottles and observing practices. However, Flemming admits that 99 percent of the time his role is just to stand around and watch.
Flemming is part of a work-study program.
“It’s basically an internship on campus,” Flemming said.
Flemming, an exercise science major with a bio minor, found out about the program after completing a class on injury care and prevention. The program not only provides a hands-on learning experience, but also helps college students financially.
“They come and help us out and get paid,” said Matt McManus, assistant athletic trainer. “This gives [Flemming] an opportunity to learn about different stuff.”
Flemming, who has aspirations of being a physical therapist, says that the experience has been a great learning opportunity.
“This is a great way to get some time interacting with people you wouldn’t have necessarily have known,” he said. “It’s good to learn how to interact with people in a rehab or training setting.”
One of the perks of the program is that Flemming controls the educational experience.
“He engages the conversation on what he wants to learn,” McManus said. “I talk to him a lot about rehab.”
After the football season ended, Flemming asked to be a trainer for the hockey teams.
Flemming has always been close to the sport of hockey. Growing up in the St. Cloud, Minn. area, Flemming played youth hockey and developed a love of the game and of the St. Cloud State Huskies.
“I hate the Gophers and I hate [UND],” Flemming said.
When his youth hockey playing days came to an end, Flemming took on the role of student manger while in high school, managing his school’s hockey team.
“That’s what got me interested in the field,” he said.
Nowadays, Flemming plays in a recreational hockey league on the weekends, and is an avid Minnesota Wild fan.
“There’s no team I’d rather watch than the Wild,” he said.
Forward Tori Davis said that Flemming’s passion for the sport is very apparent during women’s games.
“During the games he sits on the bench and gets really into it,” she said.
McManus describes Flemming as a hard-working, empathic and charismatic person.
“He could talk to a brick wall if he had to,” McManus said.
Davis echoed that statement, saying that Flemming has quite the sense of humor.
“Half of the things I don’t know where he is coming from,” she said.
As part of this work-study program, Flemming has learned to remain calm when situations arise.
Flemming said that a couple of weeks ago at a practice, two women collided and fell over. Things like this happen frequently in the sport of hockey, so he did not give the incident much thought until he saw one of the players getting up slowly.
He soon realized that one of the players had been sliced by a skate while falling, resulting in a huge cut on the side of her stomach.
At the time of the incident, McManus was assisting another player off of the ice and had left Flemming in charge of monitoring practice.
“I was like ‘holy buckets, what do I do?’” Flemming said. “I screamed for Matt.”
The rest of the team claims to have heard a bit of quiver in Flemming’s voice.
“He screamed like a girl.” Davis said.
Flemming said that the situation was a good learning experience.
“It looked kind of frightening,” he said. “We found out she had a 3/4-inch-deep cut from the skate.”
By the time McManus arrived on the scene, Flemming had jumped into action.
“He was applying pressure to the wound and doing what he needed to do,” McManus said.
Everything ended up turning out to be fine and the player didn’t miss games. However this has not stopped the team from having fun at Flemming’s expense since then.
“We still remind him,” Davis said. “Anytime someone gets injured we go over and ask ‘you good?’”
Flemming may do a lot of the little things that go into making a team success, but McManus says that he’s helped out a lot and works great with the teams.
For Flemming the experience has been a step toward his overall goal of working in a clinical setting.
“I think that it’s really cool that I’ve had the opportunity to do this,” he said. “It’s something that will help me in the future for sure.”
Senior from Moorhead, Minnesota. Sports writer for The Concordian.