Before anyone yells 'play ball,' head athletic trainer UNC graduate Sue Falsone makes sure the Los Angeles Dodgers' players are healthy. (Photo courtesy of Athletes Performance)
Falsone keeps a close watch on the Dodgers during a game. (Photo courtesy of Athletes Performance)
Her home run
UNC alumna Sue Falsone loved watching the games of her hometown professional football team, the Buffalo Bills.
“I used to tell my mom all the time that I wanted to work for the Buffalo Bills,” she said. Although few women at the time held high-ranking positions with major professional teams, Falsone’s mother encouraged her to follow her dreams. “Go for it!’” her mother told Falsone.
Falsone never worked for the Bills. But the Carolina graduate landed a major job with a reasonable facsimile — the Los Angeles Dodgers. The baseball team announced last October that it had named Falsone its head athletic trainer. Officials said Falsone, 38, was the first woman to hold such a position on a major professional team in the United States.
NOTE: May is “Exercise is Medicine” month. The EXSS department asks the UNC community to participate in the national effort to make physical activity and exercise a standard part of global disease prevention and treatment. The initiative includes an “Exercise is Medicine on Campus” campaign that encourages students, faculty and staff to improve their health and well-being and develop lifelong healthy habits.
Falsone, who joined the Dodgers in 2007 as an assistant athletic trainer, said there was no objection from players to her promotion. “There have been a lot of congratulations from some of the guys in person and from others in text messages or on the phone,” she said. A sign of the players’ feelings toward Falsone came in September when outfielder Andre Ethier waited 10 days to have knee surgery because he didn’t want to start rehabilitation until Falsone returned from Europe.
A good relationship with the players is important because Falsone will be as responsible as anyone for the Dodgers’ performance this season as she strives to keep players healthy.
Falsone is up to the task, said William E. Prentice, professor in the exercise and sport science department. He is director of UNC’s graduate athletic training program and Falsone’s former academic adviser. “She’s extremely intelligent,” Prentice added. “The thing that sets her apart is that she has a terrific personality. She’s the kind of person you want to be around all the time.”
Falsone said she had “the most amazing experience at UNC.” She earned a Master of Science degree in human movement science with a sports medicine concentration from UNC’s Division of Physical Therapy in 2000.
“The professors and clinical instructors were all unbelievable,” she said. “Mike Gross, Bill Prentice, Dan Hooker and Kevin Guskiewicz are just a few of the people at UNC that significantly impacted my career.”
Story by Gary Libman, spring ’12 Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine.
Published May 7, 2012.