Aaron Galpert, MS Ed, ATC, LAT, recently returned to his job in Akron Children’s Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine after a four-month leave of absence, during which he traveled as an athletic trainer with the Harlem Globetrotters through 17 states, including Alaska. He worked 115 games, stayed in 95 hotels, logged 30,000 miles and had only three days of down time.
The team advertised the job after the death of its trainer. As a lifelong fan of the Globetrotters, Galpert couldn’t resist the opportunity.
“It was a great experience and they are really talented guys who know how to entertain and make people laugh,” Galpert said.
Galpert’s challenge was keeping minor injuries minor.
“When you are 6’9” or 7’4”, all of that running up and down the court can take its toll on your knees,” said Galpert, who used techniques such as icing, muscle stimulation and massage to treat tendonitis and other problems related to overuse.
The Globetrotters play venues as varied as 9,000-seat arenas to high school auditoriums.
No matter the size of the audience, the routines always focus on specialty moves such dazzling dunking, spot-on shooting and dynamic dribbling.
One of Galpert’s favorite memories was the night team members invited a boy with a disability to sit with them on the bench. When one of the players was introduced, he pointed to the boy and said, “This is for you.”
“You could just see the boy melt,” Galpert said. “That made his day. Heck, it probably made his life.”
The Globetrotters have been around since 1926 and, through the decades, have entertained millions. Along with the ball wizardry and humor, the team is credited with breaking cultural and social barriers.
While Galpert is glad to be back with his family, co-workers and patients, he believes the lessons learned on the road will make him a better trainer to young athletes.
“Being around these guys just makes you more outgoing,” he said. “I’ve never laughed so much in my life.”
Oh, and if you ask nicely, he might spin a basketball on his finger for you.