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Despite COVID-19 outbreak, Westminster native Scott Stansbury still keeping athletes healthy as Notre Dame trainer

Westminster native Scott Stansbury has been an athletic trainer at Notre Dame University since 2007,
Westminster native Scott Stansbury has been an athletic trainer at Notre Dame University since 2007, (Notre Dame)

Scott Stansbury has had an opportunity to see college sports from a new perspective in recent years.

The Westminster High School graduate and longtime assistant athletic trainer at University of Notre Dame spends the majority of his time with the Fighting Irish’s baseball team, but Stansbury is a trainer for the football team as well. In that role, Stansbury found himself perched near the top of Notre Dame Stadium where he worked as a medical observer.

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“It’s different to be up in the booth and watch a game, and you see a lot more. You need to be paying way more attention to what’s going on,” Stansbury said. “It certainly expanded my abilities to see things happen in baseball, which is kind of unique. I didn’t really expect that, but I see things a lot quicker.”

Stansbury, 38, had an altogether different look at things last month, when he was with Notre Dame’s baseball team on a road trip and heard the news of college sports shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Atlantic Coast Conference suspended all athletic activities March 12, one day after the Irish (11-2) defeated Radford 9-8 for their seventh consecutive victory.

“My mode then was get guys ready for games. I had two guys that I really needed to get ready for that weekend,” Stansbury said. “We’re on our way to practice, the [athletic director] calls our head coach and says, ‘Hey, everything is shut down.’

“We kind of turned the bus around to go back to the hotel, and immediately the mindset shifted to, OK, we’ve got to get these guys all back to their hometowns. We want to make sure they’re safe, we want to make sure they’re healthy.”

Scott Stansbury, left, tends to Notre Dame baseball player Niko Kavadas during the 2019 season.
Scott Stansbury, left, tends to Notre Dame baseball player Niko Kavadas during the 2019 season. (Notre Dame A)

Keeping Notre Dame athletes healthy has been Stansbury’s goal since he arrived in South Bend, Indiana, in 2007 and joined the college’s Sports Medicine team.

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The 1999 Westminster High alum attended Salisbury University and left there in 2003 with his undergraduate degree in athletic training. From there, Stansbury landed a graduate assistant position at Villanova and earned a master’s degree. He worked with the Wildcats’ men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, and men’s lacrosse teams from 2003-07.

Stansbury started his 13th season this spring with Notre Dame baseball, “albeit a short one but we’ll count it anyway,” he said.

Stansbury said he has been striving to keep his usual routine intact since sports came to a halt, from doing administrative work to borrowing a workout bike from Notre Dame’s baseball facility to use at home. One of his bigger challenges beginning last month, he said, was stocking his shelves.

“You don’t think about these things when you’re in-season, but my biggest concern when we got back ... was I didn’t have anything in my fridge to make dinner and make food,” said Stansbury, who had access to team meals when baseball was in session. “I had to go the grocery store [March 13], and the panic was kind of hitting. I wasn’t really worried about going to the grocery store that day, and then all of a sudden I’m like, ‘I don’t really feel good about going to the grocery store right now.’”

Stansbury said he has been staying in touch with Irish baseball with FaceTime or Zoom video conferences, making sure their physical and mental health is good and getting updates on injured players’ rehabilitation progress.

Stansbury also claims a special Notre Dame baseball connection — Baltimore Orioles star Trey Mancini, a former Irish standout who earlier this week announced in an article for The Players’ Tribune he has stage 3 colon cancer.

Mancini was diagnosed with cancer March 6, and he had a malignant tumor removed six days later. He started chemotherapy April 13.

Stansbury said he remembers Mancini breaking out during his freshman year at Notre Dame. As a junior, Mancini batted .383 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs in 57 games before Baltimore picked him in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

“He came in and ... definitely established himself early,” Stansbury said. “Still had a lot to learn, obviously, but was just a tough, tough kid. He said [in the article] he never really missed time for anything, and that’s very true. Even on my end of things.”

Stansbury said Mancini’s family support will help him during his chemotherapy and recovery process, and he seems confident he’ll see Mancini return to his hometown Orioles.

“I’m happy that they caught it as quickly as they did, and were able to care of it,” Stansbury said. “I know that that will probably lead to him having a very successful result.”

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