UNCC Trainer

News | one month ago

Behind the Team: Charlotte 49ers

As the official health care provider for The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte 49ers, the well-orchestrated team of specialists at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute provide comprehensive care to help student athletes stay on top of their game.

Whether it’s on the sidelines, in the athletic training room or at one of our facilities, the team at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute works with UNC Charlotte student-athletes to offer the kind of care that sets them up for success – on and off the field.

Dr. Anthony Martin, sports medicine physician with Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute, serves as one of the team physicians for all of UNC Charlotte athletics, but he works primarily with 49ers football and basketball players.

“Being a team physician entails more than what fans may see at a game,” Martin says. “While I am on the sidelines or courtside at most home and some away games, I also have training room time during the week, which functions like a doctor's visit for injured or sick athletes.”

In addition to Martin, Dr. Robert Jones, long-time 49ers team physician, will continue to work alongside these student-athletes. Jones is a sports medicine physician with the Musculoskeletal Institute and has worked with UNC Charlotte since 2001.

He oversees all of the intercollegiate sports and supervise all of the athletic trainers. He primarily travels with football and the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

 “It is very gratifying work,” says Jones. “It's great to help these athletes chase and achieve their dreams of playing at this level and beyond.  As a former athlete, I know what it's like to be in their shoes and have even suffered some of the same injuries. So, I'm in a wonderful position to manage their expectations and motivate them.”

Care on and off the field

Martin’s canopy of care extends beyond the musculoskeletal and medical needs of athletes. He also focuses on supporting their mental health.

“Some athletes experience issues related to their performance. Working with our sports psychologist may be helpful in overcoming these struggles,” Martin says. “Not only do we want to make sure they are cleared from their injury and rehab, but also that they are mentally ready to return to the sport.”

In addition to providing care to elite level athletes at the Division 1 level, Martin also gets to train the next generation of sports medicine physicians. He currently serves as assistant program director of the sports medicine fellowship at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute.

“Part of my job is educating residents and fellows on topics related to sports medicine and having them right by my side on the sidelines so they can learn how to manage injuries and other medical issues in sports,” Martin says.

For Martin, seeing the passion and drive for their sport is one of the most rewarding parts of working with student athletes.

“I love watching them perform at their absolute best. Despite pain or injury, they continue to play on, because they just love the game,” Martin says. “No matter their professional path beyond UNC Charlotte, they are the elite, and just want to perform.  As a former athlete, I remember what that felt like for me.”

Jones also shares his passion for helping the teams.

“The student-athletes are very excited to have the opportunity to play at this level and want to take advantage of every moment, so they're grateful for everything we do to keep them healthy and out on the field/court playing,” says Jones.

Jones echos the need to take care of the whole athlete. He sais that some need nutritional education, some need education on how to take care of their body and prepare it to play everday and others just need to understand what works for and against their success.

“I cherish the many one on one conversations I've had with athletes during medical visits, seeing them through their illnesses and injuries during their time here and celebrating them as they grow into team captains, all conference performers and conference players of the year,” he says.

Fueling the team

As part of its UNC Charlotte partnership, the team at the Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute also includes sports nutritionists who play a critical role in caring for student athletes.

“Not only do we provide the tools, education and resources to provide a competitive edge, we also play a vital role for our athletes in their life after sport,” says Jaelyn Shipman, a registered dietitian and sports performance nutritionist with Atrium Health who supports Charlotte 49ers football players.

Shipman’s role entails designing, implementing and managing safe and effective nutrition strategies that enhance lifelong health, fitness and optimal performance.

Shipman says the diversity in the students at UNC Charlotte is one of her favorite aspects of her job.

“Getting to work with students of all different backgrounds makes coming to work so much fun,” Shipman says. “For many of them, working with a collegiate sports dietitian is their first time working with a nutrition specialist. Therefore, gaining their trust and helping to guide them to reach their full potential is incredibly fulfilling.”

Jennifer Lowrie, registered dietician and director of performance nutrition, also works with the athletes at UNC Charlotte.

Jennifer shares that what an athlete eats (or doesn't eat) before a practice or event can make a big impact on their ability to perform at their highest level. Hydration is another important piece that can make a huge difference in an athlete's performance, recovery and overall health.  

“I love working with the student athletes at Charlotte,” she says. “They are so motivated to learn and apply nutrition strategies to improve their performance and recovery. It's very rewarding to see an athlete take your suggestions and use it, then watch them perform and see the results.”

In addition to caring for elite athletes and providing medical support for spectators, the team of experts at MSKI helps patients from all walks of life. Learn more at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute.