GARY | In independent baseball, an athletic trainer rarely lasts with any single club longer than a season.
RailCats athletic trainer Audric Warren is in his fifth year with the team.
That makes Wednesday's announcement that Thursday will be his last day with the team even more bittersweet. He's leaving to take over the staff at IU Northwest.
"Guys like Adam Klein, Cristian Guerrero, Mike Massaro make you want to come back," Warren said. "They're such great guys, you want to be around. Half these guys are invited to my wedding because I've known them for so long.
"When (pitcher) Alain Quijano heard my options, he said 'you're going to take IUN.' It's something that's one, my own, and two, they're a growing school. They have volleyball and basketball now, but there are so many more options."
A 2003 Bishop Noll grad, Warren has also been on staff with the Chi-Town Shooters hockey team, the Gary Splash basketball team and at Bishop Noll.
Warren said taking over at the college level gives him different challenges, especially with multiple sports in a single season.
"College kids are younger, not as familiar with their bodies," he said. "Dealing with parents, with them asking 'why is my son not playing,' and they want to take them to my doctor."
Warren's job with the RailCats is more than icing the shoulders of starting pitchers. He gives complete care from on-field assessment after an injury occurred to estimating time out of the game to determining a rehab regimen.
"He's been such a big part of our ballclub and it can be tough on athletic trainers to become such a big part of the team ... because the players are always looking for someone who cares about their well-being," manager Greg Tagert said. "He's a very positive individual and hard working, but very straightforward, too, and his relationship and mine have been hand-in-hand for the last five years and he's a tough one to lose. The first 13 years of my career I think I had a trainer two years in a row in a couple occasions and that was it. To have that kind of continuity is tough to replace."
"The idea behind athletic training is comprehensive care," Warren said. "I saw it happen on the field so I can evaluate the extent of the damage and I can see how it happened. I can tell them if they need to see a doctor and work with them doing various treatment. I can help break up scar tissue and work with them to determine how the injury happened."
Former athletic training intern Samantha Hainline will take over for Warren for the remainder of the season.
Warren was also instrumental in recommending a massage therapist to the team, providing a post-road trip relief for the players.
"We work in a system that guys will see her, then see me," Warren said. "Especially after road trips, I'm lucky that she's coming. Other teams have a guy that comes in every day, like St. Paul and Wichita."
"In this league a lot of guys are working to move up, not just the players, but the coaches and young general managers and people in the front office," Tagert said. "There's always going to be a select few people who are here and become a part of the franchise and certainly Audric has become one of the faces of the franchise, and we've been lucky to have someone who is so integral to our success."