Athletic training students help young pitchers


Above, Liz Doughty '15, left, helps to perform a functional movement screen on an athlete at A1 Pitching Academy to assess his injury risk, as business owner Jonah Bayliss, right, looks on.

He struck out Alex Rodriguez and stopped Derek Jeter from scoring. Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui failed to hit any of his pitches. Now, Williamstown native Jonah Bayliss is providing an opportunity for students who major in MCLA's athletic training program to gain hands-on experience at his business, A1 Pitching Academy, in Adams.

Bayliss, a former major league baseball reliever who played professionally for 10 years from 2002-12 for the Royals, the Pirates, the Blue Jays, the Astros and the Rays in a career that took him across the United States and to Japan and Venezuela, is teaching local athletes to follow in his footsteps.

Because he relied on the expertise of certified strength coaches and certified athletic trainers throughout his professional baseball career to assist him in getting into top physical shape and preventing injury, Bayliss said the decision to work with MCLA's athletic training students was a "no-brainer."

"I knew from the get-go that the opportunity would be phenomenal for my clients here at A1," Bayliss said. "I am absolutely ecstatic about it."

Dr. Peter Hoyt, director of MCLA's athletic training education program, said the College and Bayliss both value philosophies of hard work and injury prevention. "It is a natural fit to help each other out," he said.

By working with A1's clientele - most of whom are high school students aged 14 to 18 - MCLA students will be exposed to athletes of a different age group than they are used to working with, Hoyt said.

The students are performing "functional movement screens," a series of movements designed to detect asymmetries in the body, and predict a person's susceptibility to injury. After the screens, they prescribe each A1 athlete with exercises to help correct their deficits and asymmetrical movements.

"Functional movement screens primarily are directed toward this crowd and dedicated athletes who want to take their game and abilities to the next level, injury-free," Bayliss said.

For example, the MCLA students will assess his clients' shoulder health by testing the strength of the muscles that surround the rotator cup, as greater numbers of high school athletes undergo surgery to repair injuries to their shoulders, Bayliss said.

"Our education on injury prevention needs to change. It's about maintaining a healthy body," Bayliss said. "The screen points out those asymmetries and from there we can prescribe protective exercises to address the issues an athlete might have, to help get them on the right path to staying on the field."

This service learning experience, which is being incorporated into several of the athletic training practicum classes for some of MCLA's upperclassmen athletic training students, will give them a sense of working within the community outside of their existing clinical sites, while promoting and educating the local community about the profession of athletic training, Hoyt said.

In addition to the six upperclassmen who are scheduled to participate at A1 this semester, the opportunity also will provide an observational experience for the freshman athletic training students.