Dave DiPasquale: “Communication between the player, myself, the trust the player he gives his trainer [is key].” (Photo courtesy of the Rochester Lancers)
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dave DiPasquale is living proof that you can change the course of your life and that life can begin again after 40.
After running a business for the first act of his professional life, DiPasquale became a trainer later on and hasn’t looked back.
DiPasquale will be one of 20 people who will be inducted into the Rochester Lancers indoor Wall of Fame during halftime of Friday’s 7 p.m. game with the Baltimore Blast at the Dome Arena.
“That’s pretty neat,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about that.”
Unfortunately, DiPasquale won’t be able to attend the ceremony. Months ago he made plans to be out of town to celebrate his son’s 30th birthday.
“When I heard it was the day, I figured that it’s either nothing is going on or everything at once,” he said. “So, I’m going to miss the ceremony. It’s too bad. I would have loved to have been there with everybody else who’s on the Wall. but such is life.”
His good friend, Lancers assistant coach John Berardicurti, will received his plaque, instead.
Being a trainer, a good one at that, isn’t about just taping up an ankle or diagnosing injuries. Communication is vital.
For DiPasquale, it’s all about the welfare of the athlete. It starts with the recognition of the injury, evaluation and rehabilitation.
“Communication between the player, myself, the trust the player he gives his trainer [is key],” he said. “Also, the trust between a trainer and coach. And then it comes coach and upper management. There’s more than just taping an ankle. When a kid gets injured, i have to evaluate the injury, which is the No. 1 thing that most trainers do. Ok, what type of sprain is that? Is it a first, second or third? Or does he need to go to the hospital for X-rays or can we just ice him down, tape him up, go back in the game or not play at all? That’s where the belief and trust come when you tell your coach that John can’t be playing, even though we need him, he shouldn’t be playing due to the fact he is going to further injure himself. This is a long season.
“My whole thing is, and I always strive on keeping guys in the game as much as possible unless they have total limitations. If you have a guy with an ACL or things are dead, they can’t play. They just got to rehab.”
DiPasquale said he encountered problems with Rhinos’ management about getting players on the field ASAP.
“I don’t have this problem with Sam,” he said about Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo. “With the Rhinos, when you’re paying guys a lot more money, they were more like, ‘Hey, the guy needs to play. We’re paying him.’ I’d be like, ‘Whatever you say. you’re the boss, but I’m not letting him play. I’ve have butted heads many times with concussions and things like that.”
Trainers have been known to have become master psychologists. Joe Sirianni, the trainer for the original Lancers, was a father confessor to players besides performing his daily work.
“I hate to say that trainers become shrinks sometimes,” he said. “You got a guy who wants to play and he’s been a starter and all of sudden his job id no longer there. He’s not on the field with his team. He’s sort of trying to understand the fight or flight thing. ‘I’m not part of the team anymore. All I do is rehab and making me do appearances when I should be playing.’
“Sometimes you get a guy who has never been hurt before and they’re not used to being hurt. So, when they do get hurt they’re worried about re-injuring it. So, we need to build their strength and build them mentally and physically built their confidence up so they can get out there and start practicing.”
DiPasquale remembered when a player from Portland, Ore. on the Rhinos endured some knee problems and the team was ready to cut him. Then, the trainer intervened.
“I said, ‘Why are you getting rid of him, he’s a great player? ‘ ” he said to which a team official replied: “Well, he can’t stay on the field.”
DiPasquale had a solution: Cut the players’ practice sessions from five to three times a week and give the day off prior to a match.
“He was a whole other person out there,” he said. “The guy loved me because I was looking out for him and when he went on the field, he felt like a new man. Why? Because we managed his injury.”
When you’re traveling on the road with a team, a trainer’s work seemingly is never done and probably the most popular person on the trip. DiPasquale remembered his Rhinos days.
“They knew where I was 24/7 and it would be all kinds of hours,” he said. “I tried to set hours and get piece of mind for myself.”
If you’re good, you become popular. DiPasquale remembered the year in which he worked for the Rochester Razorsharks (basketball) and Rhinos at the same time, “which was totally insane,” he said. “I was flying from one city to another, paying people to do my practice.”
Before becoming a trainer, DiPasquale had operated his own auto upholstery store in Webster for years. He had nine employees an working with several dealerships, but something was missing.
“Having nine employees and all the material to keep up, it was just a grind,” he said. “Finally, this is not worth it, the hours I was putting in and the money I wasn’t making, compared to what i owed out. I decided to go back to school.”
He also secured his New York State coaching certificate, which led to a work as an assistant athletic trainer at Monroe Community College for two years. He was applying for the Buffalo Bills’ position when Rochester Rhinos general manager Chris Economides asked him if he was interested in the soccer team’s trainer’s job.
Of course, he did and stayed until 2013.
When Lancers began in 2011, DiPasquale jumped at the opportunity to work with them. Since indoor soccer runs from November through April, it did not interfere with the Rhinos at the time.
It’s funny, because DiPasquale’s job with the Lancers led to a fulltime gig with the Rochester School District.
Six years ago, he represented the Lancers on RSD career day.
“I asked the kids, do you know of any athletic trainers and they didn’t even know what an athletic trainer was,” he said. “They thought it was an athletic director. I said, ‘Wow, that’s pretty crazy. This is 2014 and you guys don’t even know what a trainer.’ “
Unknown to DiPasquale, but one of the women in the back of the room was an athletic director and ask him if he would be interested in a job as an athletic trainer because the district would be hiring some that year.
DiPasquale, who turned 66 on Thursday, is the athletic trainer for East High School — from which he graduated from in 1971 — and the School of the Arts and two elementary schools. He said his big job is concussion management.
“It was something that was needed to be done,” he said. “Without this, it would be all up to the coaches and they’re busy coaching,” he said about athletic trainers. “They don’t have time for all of that. They have 30 kids. It’s been good. The school, the job has been great. I wish I had it 10 years ago.”