Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
LDS Football Trainer Has Experience with Pain
PROVO, UTAH -- George Curtis, a 53-year-old veteran BYU athletic
trainer, has treated almost every kind of trauma known to an athlete
as well as having experienced the trauma first hand. In 31 years
of healing athletes, Curtis has a combined length of body scars of
more than 20 feet. The current running total of surgeries performed
upon him are 49 and the overall personal misfortunes are too painful
Unable to avoid mishaps, Curtis has wandered off a mountain trail while
riding a horse that tripped down a steep rockslide and dragged him
underhoof. He made an attempt to hop off, but one of his feet got caught in
the stirrup. "I was upside down and the animal was bucking," he said. "I
made it down the hill without too much damage, except for this one large
boulder. My head hit that and, the good news was, it knocked me loose from
the horse." The bad news was, "It gave me a concussion and it took off my
scalp," Curtis said.
When Curtis was in the weight room with an athlete that was doing squats
with 400 pounds of iron, unknown to both of them a water pipe was leaking
under the floor and the floor covering gave way under the athlete's feet.
As Curtis dove to the rescue and grabbed the weights, he fractured bits of
his spine. Another time, while target shooting, the bullet ricocheted off a
metal pipe, sheering in two pieces and struck him in the chest and stomach.
He has been the receiver of numerous, wild, side-line collisions that have
left him with a crushed nose, broken disks in his neck and many concussions.
He is currently preparing for his 50th surgery, which will totally replace
his knee for the second time. His shoulder has a titanium joint, he has had
a handful of back surgeries and four elbow and 17 right knee surgeries.
"Some people have told me I'm just unlucky," he said. "That's one way of
looking at it. But I have been lucky. If things had been just a little
different, if they'd gone just a little this way or that way, I'd be dead,"
Curtis said. Curtis met his wife Janice when he joined The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was while she was teaching in Cedar City
that Curtis discovered his profound interest in sports medicine. He later
graduated with a degree in physical education and zoology.
As parents of six daughters and two sons, Curtis' family has brought love
and perspective to his life. Seventeen years ago, his 15-month-old daughter,
Kara Lee, died after falling into an ice cooler with several inches of water
in it. It has been through his many varied life experiences that Curtis has
found the rewards of helping others heal.
Curtis joined the BYU team in 1985. He lists among his accomplishments a
change that he made in BYU's environment regarding equality in women's
sports. "At first, there were separate training rooms for men and women
here," he said. "I wanted to tear down those barriers. I wanted to make
all of it the same -- whatever the men got, the women got. That's something
I'm proud of."
"He's never hesitated to give women on our staff responsibility," said
Chris Linde, a BYU assistant trainer since 1990. George has been a big
proponent of equal pay and equal respect. And he's created an atmosphere in
the training room of cohesiveness."
"They know that I'm sincere in trying to help them," said Curtis.
"Whatever they have, I've had," said Curtis. "I know when they can suck it
up and play, and when they can't. Some of these athletes think they are
indestructible. When they get hurt, it can be extremely emotional. Some of
them have never let anyone see them scared or hurt. I see their raw
emotion, and try to help them through. I see their pain."
Y. Trainer: He Feels Your Pain
Salt Lake Tribune 5Sep00 P2
By Gordon Monson: Salt Lake Tribune