Conversation

Conversation with Keith Ellison ’86, ’06, Head Athletic Trainer

By John Kissell

Keith Ellison is assistant athletics director for sports medicine at LMU, where he has worked for 24 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1986, and a master’s in education with an emphasis in guidance counseling in 2006. In his 18 years as head trainer, he has seen LMU’s athletic programs swell to 22 varsity sports, with more than 450 student-athletes. He was interviewed by John Kissell.

How have the training facilities changed in your 18 years as LMU’s head athletic trainer?
When I first got here, the student-athletes were training in Gersten Pavilion, behind the upper-level bleachers. It was about 1,500 square feet, and we didn’t have a certified strength and conditioning coach. Now, we have a 4,000-square-foot facility, with three full-time strength and conditioning coaches. That is a big change, and it was long overdue. Thanks to a donation by Chad and Ginni Dreier, and the contributions of other generous donors, these facilities have changed our program and improved the mindset of our student-athletes and changed a lot of their thinking about conditioning and strength training. And it’s a plus when coaches are recruiting.

What does the new facility allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?

We can work efficiently with multiple teams. When we had less space, we had scheduling problems. A large team, such as women’s crew, would come in, but there wasn’t room for another team in there.

Have the equipment and monitoring of the student-athletes improved also?
The added space allowed us to install multiple Powerlift squat racks, which can be used in a variety of ways, as well as space to conduct dynamic training. The staff can now be very creative in their training programs.

Do you and your staff design individual programs for each athlete?
Yes, and they are very sport-specific and designed for injury prevention. If an athlete has an injury, we can design his or her training in a particular program.

When you work with student-athletes, what is the balance of perspiration to motivation?
I try to gear all my staff members, all my certified athletic trainers, to go into guidance counseling. It helps them to encourage student-athletes to continue with a particular challenge. Some athletes require more motivation than others, even at this level.

You’ve helped develop the bachelor of science degree in athletic training (in the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering). Do those students assist your work with LMU’s athletes?
They assist me more in the athletic training rooms, because that’s more in line with the focus of the major; they do intern hours with me in the athletic training room. What they will see more of is injury prevention and injury rehabilitation of our student-athletes. The strength and conditioning staff has interns who help them and who want to be more familiar with that field. It’s two entities working together.

Keith Ellison ’86, ’06
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