Trainers are the unsung heroes at virtually every level of competition.
They put in many hours before athletes arrive for competition and long hours after athletes leave. They are on duty at events and often are on-call 24/7 in case an athlete needs attention.
Tom Probst's reward for the time he puts in as head trainer of the Colorado Rockies was recognized Dec. 12 at baseball's winter meetings in New Orleans. The Brainerd High School graduate and his assistant, Keith Dugger, received the Major League Athletic Training Staff of the Year award from the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society for the 2003 season.
Probst, a member of the PBATS board, was at the head table when the award was announced.
"I was sitting next to the president of PBATS when he pulled out the envelope," Probst said from Coors Field in Denver. "He gets to the podium and calls my name and I thought, 'You've got to be kidding me.' Never once did I think I would win. It's a great honor."
Probst, the National League trainer for the 2003 All-Star Game, is preparing for his 12th season at the major league level, all with the Rockies, for whom he has been head trainer the last five years.
Spring training begins Feb. 15, which he concedes is less glamorous for trainers than for fans.
"I hate to let the organization down and myself down," Probst said. "I kind of push myself to make sure all the little details are complete. I put a lot of pressure on myself.
"I look at spring training as a great new start but I also look at it as a lot of work. There's a lot to do at spring training for trainers, long hours, etc. I guess maybe I don't find it as much fun as other people. We're there to work, not to have fun."
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