The workload for UConn athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle began to heighten before this season even began. Bria Hartley was hobbled by a sprained left ankle, missing all but two practices during the preseason and the first two games of the regular season.
That was only the beginning. Kelly Faris and Moriah Jefferson are the only members of the Huskies to have played in all 37 games this season. Faris is the lone player to start every game.
Still, the Huskies are 33-4 and have positioned themselves two wins shy of claiming an NCAA record-tying eighth national championship. And Ragle’s performance has been vital to the team’s overall success.
“It’s just been a 24-hour-a-day job for our staff, but mostly for her,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s been non-stop and it started Oct. 15. It just hasn’t stopped. I don’t envy her. She deserves everything she’s getting paid, actually she’s woefully underpaid as are most of the athletic trainers in the country.’’
Aside from Hartley’s injury troubles, Brianna Banks was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee Feb. 2; Kiah Stokes missed six games due to a stress reaction in her lower right leg. She also recently had an MRI on her back; Morgan Tuck missed four games due to a bone bruise in her right knee; Breanna Stewart missed a total of three games due to a sprained left ankle and soreness in her left calf. And Caroline Doty (left knee), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (concussion) and Stefanie Dolson (illness) have each missed one game.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the locker room that hasn’t gone to her with some kind of injury or illness or something bothering them,’’ Hartley said. “It’s hard on her, but she’s great.’’
“She’s getting her money’s worth this year,’’ said Faris, who continues to deal with a sore left foot. “She’s doing great. I feel bad for her, though, she’s probably exhausted.’’
Ragle has done arguably her best work during this tournament with Dolson battling a stress fracture in a non-weight bearing bone in her right ankle that she sustained during the Big East tournament last month and plantar fasciitis in her left foot. Dolson has still averaged 8.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 22.8 minutes through the first four games.
“Rosemary is the best,’’ Dolson said. “She’s fun, outgoing, sarcastic. She knows how to take care of us, our individual injuries and our individual personalities come into it too. She’s done a great job taking care of us with all that’s happened. As much as we don’t want to be around her because that would mean we’re hurt, we enjoy being around her.’’