By Teresa Varley
The training room at the Steelers practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex has been a busy place this season with a laundry list of players, including starters Willie Parker, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Ryan Clark and Casey Hampton being among those hobbled at various times.
But to the credit of the athletic training staff the time spent away from the field for those guys was limited and for those that did miss games, they were back in action fast.
So it should come as no surprise that the team's athletic training staff was honored by being named the 2008 Professional Football Athletic Training Staff of the Year.
Head athletic trainer John Norwig, who was elected President of PFATS this past year, and assistants Ryan Grove and Ariko Iso will receive the award at the Ed Block Courage Award Banquet on March 10 in Baltimore, Md.
"On the surface it has been a challenging year," said Norwig. "But in the middle of the season every year it seems challenging. We have good athletes that work hard. Hopefully we continue to have success."
The award is voted on by the other athletic trainers in the NFL who are members of the Professional Football Athletic Training Society (PFATS) and presented to the athletic training staff that best exemplifies dedication and commitment to the training of its players.
"It's an honor to be selected by your peers as one of the outstanding staffs in the NFL," said Norwig. "There are many staffs. It's just nice to be chosen."
Norwig, who earned his bachelor and master's degree from Penn State, is in his 18th season with the Steelers and 29th overall in athletic training. Grove has been with the team for 10 seasons after receiving his bachelor and master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Iso, the first and only full-time female athletic trainer in the NFL, is in her seventh season with the team having earned her bachelor's degree from Oregon State and master's from San Jose State.
"I think the longevity of the assistants here gives credit to the quality and the relationships we have," said Norwig. "When three people work together we are not going to agree all of the time. We cooperate and have common goals and achieve those."