The Colgate Scene
September 2007

Sports
The coordinator of sports medicine services, Marty Erb [Courtesy of Athletic Communications]

An extraordinary trainer

It's a typical game-day morning. Marty Erb walks into the training room a little before 7:00 a.m. He switches on the light and takes in the familiar sights of the taping tables, whirlpools, and shelves filled with more types of bandaging and taping supplies than the average person would like to see in a lifetime. He smiles, feeling at home as he prepares for that day's game, a task he left behind just eight hours before.

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He will continue throughout the day, filling bags of ice, mixing electrolyte drinks, making sure the facility is ready for the influx of student-athletes whose injuries need to be managed prior to the game. He will be on hand during the game to take care of any game-inflicted injuries and to maintain the health of previously injured athletes. Afterward, he will assess and care for newly injured players and clean up the facilities. He will leave long after the athletes and coaches have ended their day, just as he arrived long before theirs began.

The coordinator of sports medicine services, Erb has logged a combined 40 years in his profession, 32 of them at Colgate. On September 28, he will be honored for his dedicated service when he becomes only the second member of the athletic support staff, and first non-alumnus, to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Honor.

Although his mother always told him he would be a doctor, Erb fell in love with his profession while working in the athletic training room as an undergraduate at Bucknell University.

He attended graduate school at Indiana, one of about 10 U.S. schools to offer master's programs in sports medicine at the time. There, he said, he experienced "big time" college athletics. He rode on chartered planes to games and watched the development of future NFL and NBA stars, but he felt that something was out of balance. He soon found equilibrium when Colgate offered him the job of assistant athletic trainer in 1973.

"I finished graduate school, took two weeks to paint my mother-in-law's house, where my wife, Jane, and I were going to have our wedding reception," Erb remembered. "We got married on a Saturday, went to the Pittsburgh Zoo for our honeymoon on Sunday, packed up the truck on Monday, drove here on Tuesday, and I started working a soccer camp at the end of that week."

At Colgate, he found everything he wanted both personally and professionally. The close-knit Hamilton community, he said, was the perfect place to start a family (he has two sons), and he could enjoy working with student-athletes who put as much effort into academics as they did athletics.

Erb has been promoted twice. When he was named head athletic trainer in 1975, he became the youngest in the country to hold that post. He was given his current title in 2005. Although both promotions were great honors, Erb said he would have been happy keeping his starting position if it were the only way he could continue working with athletes and attending games and practices — his favorite part of the job.

Having worked with all of Colgate's varsity sports teams and more than 50 head coaches, Erb has become a leader in the field. As president of the NYS Athletic Trainers Association from 1998 to 2000, he was instrumental in getting legislation passed that declared the first week in March Athletic Trainers Week in New York. At Colgate, he has seen the staff grow from two athletic trainers to four full-time and two intern trainers. He also expanded the student athletic trainer program, and has seen several of his students use what they learned at Colgate as training professionals at prestigious schools around the country.

Ask anyone in the athletics department if they have a story about Marty Erb and they will tell you first a comical one, and then one that pulls on your heartstrings. They will describe how he has served as a role model, father figure, and mentor to countless students and assistant athletic trainers, and kept an open door and an open ear for not only those athletes, but also coaches.

"After thirty-plus years, Marty still brings the smile and vigor of a young professional straight out of college," said head athletic trainer Steve Chouinard. "The bottom line is that he cares. He cares for the benchwarmer to the same degree as the star. In a profession where burnout is commonplace, he has remained effective, passionate, and loyal. Colgate is lucky to have had him at the helm for so long."

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