By Nate Thompson
MUSKEGON–In the 11 years that Ted Quick has been the athletic trainer at Muskegon High School, he’s taken pride in what he calls educational athletics.
A prime example is the student-athletes involved with the basketball program at the school. According to Quick, during his tenure, every single Big Reds player has qualified academically to play college basketball, and more than a handful have been talented enough on the hardwood to be recruited to take their talents to the next level.
“I know as an athletic trainer, I play a small role in helping keep these kids healthy, but I’m proud to be a part of it all, what we call educational athletics,” Quick said. “These kids are fortunate to be at a place like Muskegon because of the support behind the scenes. The support staff in place here really does a tremendous job from the AD, to coaches and the academic advisor that works with all of our teams.”
Quick, 54, initially thought he was bound to be a teacher, but soon discovered that he could also make an impact in students’ lives as an athletic trainer. He’s currently in his 27th season in the profession, as he spent 18 years prior to Muskegon working at Muskegon Heights.
“For sure, building relationships is what we value the most, that’s where the bread and butter is,” Quick said. “I always wanted to be in some way shape or form, being helpful to kids. But starting out, I was interested in just being involved with athletics.”
Quick was born in Detroit, but spent his high school years in the northern Michigan community of Beulah, which is about 40 minutes south of Traverse City.
“There wasn’t a season where I wasn’t playing a sport,” he said. “My dad and brother each played three sports, so I always wanted to follow suit.”
He grew up playing basketball, football and baseball, and also ran track and cross country.
Quick earned his undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University, and felt fortunate when an opportunity for an internship presented itself at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon. That evolved into a career with Hackley Sports Medicine, which is now known as Trinity Health. Aside from being contracted as an athletic trainer at Muskegon High, he also works in a clinical setting in outpatient physical therapy at Trinity.
With Muskegon sending their athletic trainers to both home and away events for its basketball and football programs at all levels, Quick said the job is extremely demanding time-wise, but fortunately, the school has hired a second full-time athletic trainer in Zach Jones, who has been at the school for 1 1/2 years.
“He’s actually there more than I am,” Quick said.
Together, they prepare for the unexpected, even for uncommon situations such as cardiac arrest, which is what transpired with the Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin on the field during a game in early January.
“Obviously, something like that is extremely rare, but for us, those areas are still day-to-day issues,” Quick said. “I’ve seen situations of neck injuries or players losing consciousness, and those are very serious situations. So it’s preparation behind closed doors. We practice for those situations.”
And it was Quick’s quick action that likely saved a life at an event on school grounds, when a member of the school’s janitorial staff suffered a heart attack and an automated external defibrillator had to be used to revive him.
“It’s behind the scenes, not publicized, but yeah, situations like those do happen,” he said. “You have to be ready.”
Quick said he gets the same satisfaction from helping student-athletes overcome injuries through long term rehab. One in particular was a boys basketball player, who battled through a knee injury during the Covid-shortened season in 2022.
“Covid knocked the season down to 18 games and this poor kid had no time to rehab. We tried to limit him in practice, but he limped through the entire season. He ended up having surgery, rehabbed throughout the off-season and as a senior, he was able to play an entire season and earned a scholarship to play at the next level.
“Those stories of perseverance, those are the ones that really stand out.”