Fever? The doctor’s in

Craig Stull ’05 is living proof that following your passions is always best when choosing a major. His decision to do just that has provided him an amazing career in professional sports. A 6-footer, he hasn’t seen a minute of time on the pro basketball court. But he’s essential to team owners filling stadiums all around the country.

Craig’s Quick Facts

  • Interned with the Indiana Pacers as a UIndy student
  • Traveled with UIndy’s volleyball, women’s soccer, and track & field teams
  • Lived in New Hall during his first year at UIndy
  • Served as a Residence Hall Assistant for two years
  • Married by his pastor—and UIndy alumnus—Clint McKinnis ’02
  • Hid out on second floor of the library, in the cubby with couches, his favorite place to study
  • Works with other UIndy alumni in the field, including Jennie Brennan ’04, Indiana Fever assistant trainer, and Donnie Strack ’02, Oklahoma City Thunder medical director

.

Now the head trainer for the Indiana Fever—who fell just short of a title in the WNBA finals in 2009—Craig has gone from helping high school students recover from athletic injuries to protecting the careers of some of the world’s greatest athletes.  When Craig first arrived at UIndy, he had his heart set on entering its nationally ranked Krannert School of Physical Therapy. But as time went by, he discovered that the life of a PT just wasn’t for him.

Craig knew that he wanted a career in health care, but he longed to find a position where he could combine all of his passions: a strong interest in athletics, a desire to help others, and a need for a fast-changing work environment. The answer was athletic training, helping professional and amateur clients return to the athletic field.

“The diversity of the work keeps things interesting,” he says.

Craig got his professional start at the highly respected St. Vincent Sports Performance Center in Indianapolis, working for fellow UIndy grad Ralph Reiff ’80, director of sports medicine at St. Vincent’s. Craig has been at the Center for five years, working in various capacities as an athletic trainer for countless sports programs.

Lots of time in the trenches

Craig has now been with the Indiana Fever for three years and is in his second year as head athletic trainer. On his watch, the Fever remained injury-free on their way to one of the franchise’s best seasons, ending up one game short of winning the WNBA title in 2009. As of this writing, the Fever are preparing to head to the 2010 playoffs.

It’s all in a day’s work—which starts early. Since practice begins at 10 a.m. on most days, you’ll find Craig in the training room at 7:30 a.m., prepping the players for the tough day ahead. Craig averages 60 hours a week with the Fever or his other Sports Performance clients. Craig also suggests that “it’s best if you enjoy traveling—it’s just a part of the job.”

He spent last summer, in fact, traveling around the country and even to such destinations as Istanbul, Turkey, to check on the training progress of players who were playing for European clubs during the off-season. “You have to enjoy athletic training because you’ll spend a lot of time at it,” he says. “And to become good in this profession, you have to love learning.”

Off-season

Craig takes full professional advantage of the many athletic events that come to Indianapolis annually.
Each year he works with potential draft picks to prepare for the NFL Combine and Pro Days. That consumes six or eight weeks of his time during the off-season. He also assisted with training duties at both the men’s and women’s Big 10 basketball tournaments. In between helping collegiate and professional athletes perform to the best of their abilities, Craig helps fellow athletic trainers working at a local Indianapolis high school.

—Shawn Odle