YORKTOWN, N.Y. - For David Byrnes, there couldn’t be a more appropriate nickname than “Diesel,” the sobriquet he’s acquired as Yorktown High School’s athletic trainer.
Simply put, given how many games he attends, all the pregame work he puts in and everything else he does during the day, Byrnes’ motor is running all the time.
The Huskers football team dubbed him “Diesel” during the first few weeks of the 2004 preseason, Byrnes said, and it has stuck ever since.
“Paul Santavicca will say it was him, but I’ll credit the team for diplomacy reasons,” Byrnes said. “It actually is helpful on the field. When there’s an emergency or injury, and people start yelling ‘Diesel,’ I hear it better and it gets my attention.”
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It’s not just the Yorktown community that has noticed Byrnes’ hard work over the years. It’s the entire state as well.
Now in his 15th year at Yorktown and 19th as a certified athletic trainer, Byrnes was one of two athletic trainers in the state named this month to receive the 2019 Joseph Abraham Award from the New York State Athletic Trainers Association (NYSATA) for the outstanding care they provide student-athletes.
“Receiving an award from my athletic-training colleagues at the New York State Athletic Trainers Association is a great honor,” Byrnes said. “To be recognized for the great work we do at Yorktown, providing great healthcare and ensuring the safety of our student-athletes, is something I’ve been working toward since the first day I walked into Yorktown.”
The award also recognizes Yorktown High School’s training facilities and overall attention to safety in sports.
“The administration, with the support of our community, has done a great job of providing the resources to deliver the services needed by our athletes,” Byrnes said. “My athletic training room left a lot to be desired when I first arrived, but in 2007 we started the process of renovating the locker rooms, weight room and my athletic training facility. It was great to have a group of stakeholders who worked collectively to design spaces that suited our needs.”
Byrnes said that the space and tools to perform the job make it much easier to implement the policies and procedures Yorktown maintains in its athletic department .
“We’re always moving forward and continue to develop/expand our program to provide the best healthcare and utilize best practices,” Byrnes said.
“Having up-to-date, well-maintained and clean practice/game/healthcare environments is critical to the health and safety of our student-athletes. This culture was started by our longtime Athletic Director Fio Nardone and continues today under our new AD, Rob Barrett.”
Besides having the skill to be an athletic trainer, Byrnes is a people-person who has developed relationships with not only the Yorktown coaches and student-athletes but also the parents, teachers, administrators, school nurses, doctors, physical therapists, school psychologists, visiting teams, game officials, journalists and the community as a whole.
“They are critical to develop trust and understanding with those you work with,” Byrnes said. “Good relationships are built on honesty, trust, communication, work ethic and a sense of humor.”
Besides those above relationships, Byrnes said, having the support of his family is vital.
“Given the inherent stress, long days and odd schedule, maintaining a work/life balance is key to a long career,” Byrnes said. “I’m very lucky to have my wonderful wife, Cari, and two loving daughters who are understanding when I miss a family function or I am not there for dinner, which is most nights.”