DRAFFENVILLE – Jason Crivello has some stories to tell – like the one about plucking “about 30 thumbtacks” out of the body of professional wrestler “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
“When you work a few years of pro wrestling, you see all sorts of crazy stuff – people going through tables, getting hit with chairs,” he said.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go as well as it was planned out and you get some bad cuts or something like that, so you see all sorts of stuff.”
It’s a little less dramatic in his job as athletic trainer for Marshall County High School.
Less dramatic, but not necessarily any less compelling.
“I’ve never witnessed a high school with athletic teams and events that bring more visiting fans to away games,” he said. “Home games, the support is just tremendous. It makes it more fun to work around.”
Crivello, 39, majored in sports medicine at the University of Louisville. He’s back for a second stint at Marshall County.
He first worked here in 1997-99. Since then, it has been an interesting and varied journey for the Alton, Ill., native who graduated from Lone Oak High School in 1990.
Crivello has worked with the U of L football and track teams on an internship, at Spaulding University and Ballard High School in Louisville, with a semi-pro hockey team, with Ohio Valley Wrestling (a WWE affiliate), with an under-17 Mexican national soccer team which went to the under-17 World Cup in Nigeria, and with the famous Harlem Globetrotters before returning to western Kentucky.
Presently, he is an employee of The Orthopaedic Institute of Western Kentucky in Paducah, assigned to work with all sports programs at MCHS.
“When I started out here, it was one of my first jobs and I’m sure I was very green back then,” Crivello said. “Now, almost 15 years down the road, I have a lot of experience. It’s completely different from when I started here.”
The most serious incident Crivello has ever dealt with was during his stint working with WWE.
“I had a professional wrestler who had been complaining about some weird shoulder pain that seemed to be moving around in his shoulder in different spots from week to week,” he said.
“It took us awhile to figure out what it was, and I finally realized it wasn’t even his shoulder. I suspected it had something to do with his neck.”
Crivello arranged for the wrestler to have a CT scan of his neck.
“It turns out he had an unstable neck fracture that he had been wrestling on for we don’t know how many weeks,” Crivello said. At any level of competition, he said, serious injuries can occur.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re working in wrestling, high school basketball, whatever, anything can happen,” he said.
“You just never know. I’ve been lucky and I’ve never really seen anything too catastrophic. I thank the Lord for that, and hope I never do. We just always try to be prepared.”
It’s usually more routine stuff, such as MCHS basketball player Mariah McKenty’s knee sprain.
“I spent a couple of weeks rehabbing her and getting her back,” he said. “You hope that the sooner you get her back, it’s gonna bring a little bit of a morale boost to the team, and I think it did. It definitely boosted her morale.”
Crivello noted that psychology is an important part of caring for athletes’ physical ailments.
Crivello says he got some valuable pointers when he had the opportunity to work with Louisville-based sports psychologist Stan Frager.
“Every athlete’s a little bit different, so different types of psychology are going to work on different people,” Crivello said.
McKenty, he says, was an excellent patient.
McKenty remembers the rehab with amusement.
“I had five different things to do, and then we’d go to the weight room and do about a hundred squats,” she said, laughing.
McKenty was gung-ho to get back, Crivello said.
“She bounced back quicker than I expected,” he said. “We just had to make sure it was strong and stable before we let her back out on the court.”
McKenty’s conduct as a patient compared favorably with that of the Nature Boy, Crivello said.
One night, after a hard-core match (“...which involved various implements like tables and chairs and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire and thumbtacks and things like that,”
Crivello said) he had to help the battered and bloodied Flair out of the ring.
Then, he proceeded to pull out the thumbtacks that had been scattered around on the floor of the wrestling ring.
“So I sat there and said, ‘Hold still, Ric,’ and I just plucked ‘em out one at a time until we got ‘em all out and then helped clean him up and he was good to go,” Crivello said.
“He was great. He stood there and took it like a champ. He just sat there and smiled and we patched him up.”
Football is one of Crivello’s favorite sports to work, “because you’re very involved,” he said. “There’s usually a lot to do in terms of preparation – taping, stretching, and that sort of stuff, beforehand. You end up getting really wrapped up in the games in football.”
Hockey and soccer are second and third on his list.
“But I know that’s hard to say in Marshall County, which is a basketball school,” he said.