By Nate Thompson
FRUITPORT–While the official title for Fruitport’s Pam Simot is athletic trainer, she could be labeled with many other roles.
She’s a motivator for student-athletes fighting back from serious injuries; and she’s a listener in the training room, as many share their highs and lows of not only what’s going on in their school life, but also at home.
But most importantly, she considers herself a part of the team, with an important job to do just like the head coach, although she’s the first to admit that athletic trainers often are overlooked because they work behind the scenes, and often thrust into action in a blink of an eye.
“It’s not stressful until we have somebody go down (with an injury),” Simot, 56, said. “Every day is different.”
A self-professed lover of sports, Simot grew up in Clarkston and later earned her degree from Central Michigan University. She said she’s been blessed to work with a number of great co-workers at Trinity Health in Muskegon, which has a contract with several area schools to provide athletic trainers for all of their Michigan High School Athletic Association-sponsored sports, and even practices and summer camps, such as 7-on-7 passing camps for football.
She started her career working at Grand Haven for 9 years and then shifted over to Muskegon Catholic Central for around 15 years, she said. Her next stop would be at Fruitport, which she hopes will be her last stop.
“I’ve been really lucky to have been around some pretty good and supportive coaches at every school I’ve worked with, as well as athletic directors,” she said.
While her schedule often begins in the early afternoon and doesn’t wind down until the final outs are recorded or whistles are blown late in the evening, she said she still loves the job.
“Having a family is sometimes difficult, because you’re missing a lot of their activities,” Simot said.
Luckily, she said her husband of 30 years, Scott, has been extremely supportive, helping raise their three boys, who are now all in their early- to mid-20s.
The relationships she’s been able to make with hundreds of student-athletes is what she values the most.
“Definitely,” she said. “Just seeing them go from scrawny, goofy freshmen, to nice, young adults as seniors, it’s nice to think that you’ve been at least a small part of their lives.”
Granted, she’s seen her fair share of serious injuries, many which have been devastating to a young person, including having their athletic careers end too soon. And she’s also seen times of tragedy and the effect it can have on students. One that comes to mind, she said, was the death of Grand Haven’s Adam Provencal, who was accidentally shot and killed on Halloween night in 1992.
“Just seeing the fallout with what the family went through and the personal struggles so many students experienced. It’s hard.
“But we all have our favorite stories,” she added. “There was a family in Grand Haven with five boys and I worked with three of them. I also had their mom and dad in PT, so being able to build relationships with their entire family was special.”
Surprisingly, Simot said her favorite sports to work at are wrestling, track and cross country.
“With wrestling, I just love the level of competition,” she said. “You can be a small kid but still make a huge impact. It’s an individual and a team sport. And with running, I love that because that’s what I competed in.
“I tend to root for the underdog kid. Those are my favorites. The average Joe Schmo, who has the work ethic and has to battle through adversity. I love seeing those types succeed.”
How fortunate Fruitport is to have Pam Simot!