SI Vault
 
INDIANS' MEDICINE MAN
November 08, 1954
Connie Jarvis, athletic trainer for Stanford University teams, is a man in perpetual motion on any football day—as a detective, nursemaid, confidant and doctor pro tem
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 08, 1954

Indians' Medicine Man

Connie Jarvis, athletic trainer for Stanford University teams, is a man in perpetual motion on any football day—as a detective, nursemaid, confidant and doctor pro tem

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

If ever a football team needed the mothering balm of a trainer's sympathetic hand and heart, Stanford University's wounded Indians are it. Winner of their first three games and feeling rather perky, they were summarily scalped by Navy 25-0, then slaughtered by U.C.L.A. 72-0.

But probably no one on the Palo Alto campus took these crushing defeats so hard—or in quite the way—as did the Stanford trainer himself. For 37-year-old Donald Conrad Jarvis is no ordinary athletic trainer who merely straps and patches a player for the next battle. Connie Jarvis is a dedicated ministrant whose interest in a Stanford victory is only surpassed by his paternal concern for "his boys."

Like most trainers, Jarvis concedes that he's a frustrated athlete-doctor. He became head trainer in 1946 and has tended the needs and bruises of all Stanford's athletic teams ever since. "I'll die at Stanford if I can," insists Jarvis. And live and die he does, every time the Indians are in action.

A TYPICAL SATURDAY

On a typical Saturday, Jarvis' ups and downs begin early in the morning at a Palo Alto hotel where the football squad has quietly spent Friday night away from the pregame campus high jinks. At 8:30, after rousing his flock, Jarvis begins taping injured knees, ankles and wrists before the players get dressed. He also must wrap the ankles of a big man like 215-pound guard Tony Mosich, whose ankle joints are too weak to carry him through an entire game without breaking down.

At 10 a.m. the team eats its only pregame meal: roast beef, baked potato, vegetables, all the toast and honey they want, raisin custard and warm tea. "The idea," Jarvis explains, "is to fill their bellies with plenty of nonfatty food so they can have it fully digested before the game."

Some players, too nervous to digest food, are given a sedative. But this doesn't always work, says Jarvis. He recalls when he gave one player Drama-mine until he learned that by the third quarter the boy was falling asleep.

After brunch, Jarvis dons his white doctor's smock and professional air. Then, in his elaborate $20,000 training room, equipped with everything from whirlpool baths and diathermy units to electric vibrators and massage tables, he deftly plies his art.

A halfback needs a pneumatic pad to protect a thigh Charley horse, plus a careful fitting of his hip pads to cover a badly bruised nerve spot above the joint—one of football's most painful occupational hazards. On the broken hand of a tackle, Jarvis tapes a hard piece of plastic, then wraps the hand with a heavy layer of soft gauze. "Sure this could make quite a weapon," he admits, "but I can trust this boy—and naturally we tell the other team about it."

The next patient is a lineman with a well-battered nose. Jarvis inserts two straws deep in the nostrils and administers drop of Privine to shrink the membranes and open the passages.

Continue Story
1 2