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Athletic Training: Davis keeps the Cajuns cooking at right temperature

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 3, 2016

Brian Davis might not get much attention, but without him the 41-19 UL baseball might not be heading into the NCAA Tournament this week as Sun Belt Conference co-champions and Sun Belt Tournament champs, ranked No. 14 nationally and seeded No. 1 in the Lafayette Regional at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

Relief pitcher? Nope.

Starting outfielder? Nope.

Coach? Strike three, you’re out.

Davis is the Ragin’ Cajuns’ trainer — fancy title, Senior Associate Director of Athletic Training — and wow, has he ever been busy lately keeping his charges clicking.

“Brian’s amazing, man. He really cares about his job. He really cares about his players,” senior reliever Eric Carter said of Carter, a Northwestern State graduate who’s been at UL since 2007.  “He’s done an excellent job helping … guys bounce back and recover from heat and soreness.”

“He definitely does a fantastic job of keeping us hydrated,” senior catcher Nick Thurman added. “Him being as experienced as he is, he can tell whenever we’re starting to get tired and whenever we need something a little bit better than water.”


Perhaps some coconut water?

Maybe just an ice-cold towel?

You name it, Davis — a Louisiana native who worked previously at Saint Leo College in Florida, Southern Polytechnic State in Georgia and as a graduate assistant at Baylor (where he earned his master’s) — is bound to have it at the ready.

“Brian’s done a great job of keeping Thurm, and keeping our whole ballclub, on the field,” said coach Tony Robichaux said, whose Cajuns open Lafayette Regional play Friday night against Princeton.

“Let me tell you something: Your trainer’s worth his weight in gold. You can call yourself a good coach, but you take your two best pitchers off the field and your three-hole hitter off the field and your catcher off the field, you start to see how good of a coach you are.”

There have been some in-season injuries along the way, including odd-ball ones like starting centerfielder Kyle Clement’s broken forearm and starting shortstop Hunter Kasuls’ broken hand – both sustained when hit by a pitch.

But those two are back and Davis has helped to keep the Cajuns cooking even when temperatures soar, as they did to an extreme when UL won all four games at last week’s Sun Belt Tournament in San Marcos, Texas.

“During the tournament it was hot and humid in Texas,” Thurman said, “and we had cold towels, everything back there (behind the dugout) to kind of keep us going.”

Need to know the coolest spot in the dugout?

Davis can direct you there too, like he did when — according to Thurman — Clement felt the heat in San Marcos.

Thurman has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Davis’ work, and it’s helped him catch every inning of every Cajun game this season.

The catcher likes his coconut water, which helps to replace lost electrolytes.

But there’s much to it all than merely keeping players hydrated.

“My biggest thing is, No. 1, making sure they eat really well — making sure they get up and have breakfast and lunch before we actually got to the field,” Davis said.


“Just pushing a lot of water,” he said.

And when that’s not enough?

Powerade and the coconut water — chocolate-flavored, for some — are high on the list.

The big key, though, is having everyone believing.

“I’m not a big coconut water guy,” Carter said.

But when he was sweltering in Texas — where he was critical in two UL wins over Arkansas State — guess what Carter was drinking?

Cue The Coconut Song.

“They understand the benefits,” Davis said.

“Once you get one guy sold,” he added, “that’s where you’re able to get the rest of the guys to kind of buy in a little bit better.”

Coconut water — an, ahem, acquired taste — is mostly consumed during games.

Spring water and Powerade, though, were available for Cajun players whenever they needed a drink in Texas.

Even in the middle of the night.

“We keep a case of water (and) a case of Powerade outside of Brian’s door,” Robichaux said. “Every time it goes empty he refills it — as long as it’s not people in the hotel taking it.

“Brian does a lot of work behind the scenes … making sure they come and get it, making sure they’re drinking it (starting 24 hours before a game), making sure they try to get it down to the cellular level and trying to have them ready for the day we have in front of us.”

During games, there’s much more to making sure everyone drinks up.

Take Thurman.

A good trainer knows his players well enough to realize when they’re honest about how they feel and when they may be hiding something.

Davis, Robichaux suggested, knows.

“Brian,” the Cajun coach said in Texas, “checks with (Thurman) every inning when he’s got him back there, making sure he’s good and he’s OK — and he’s not just saying he’s OK.”