Waggener High School athletic trainer helps student athletes stay healthy

March is National Athletic Training Month — learn about athletic trainers in our community

Joshua Martoccio comes from a family of candy makers; his great-grandfather invented the formulas for the PayDay and Zero candy bars. But Joshua found his calling when he got hurt playing baseball for a junior college in his hometown of Centralia, Illinois. He went to rehab and worked with an athletic trainer — and his life was forever changed.

Before getting hurt, he’d never heard of an athletic trainer.

“It sparked my interest,” Joshua said. “I was always asking the trainer questions. I decided to pursue it [as a career].”

He received degrees in exercise science, a bachelor’s from Murray State University in Kentucky and a master’s from Arkansas State University, Jonesboro. Before moving to Louisville to accept his role with Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team (KORT) and Norton Sports Health, he was the head athletic trainer at Kentucky State University, Frankfort.

Joshua is now the athletic trainer and sports medicine teacher at Waggener Traditional High School in Louisville. He works with students and parents to keep kids playing the sports they want to play. He works closely with parents to monitor their child’s care, helping families understand when an injury is minor and can be treated easily or if it’s time to see a doctor. He is a fixture at the school, so much so that athletics stop if he is out for a day.

“Athletic training comes with a lot of work; it’s not easy,” he said. “The field has a misconception of being easy, of just filling water bottles. We have a lot of training. We’re emergency personnel when other medical staff isn’t present. It’s not a profession that’s wildly talked about, but there is a clear need for it.”

When a student is hurt, he works with them to get back to 100 percent; but sometimes, time is not on the student’s side.

“It’s tough having to tell a senior basketball player and his dad during a game that, in my opinion, his ACL is torn,” Joshua said. “Telling junior or senior athletes that their season is over is one of the hardest things I do. If an athlete is trying to work toward an athletic scholarship, it can be devastating news to the child and the family.”

Joshua says that working with athletes and their families is one of the reasons the profession is so rewarding.

“You have to be selfless,” Joshua said. “You care about other people more than you care for yourself, sometimes. But there’s really no way that I can think of to put into words how it feels when you work with an athlete to accomplish a goal, and they reach it. We both reached it. No one wants to come to an athletic trainer, but when they’re back out there [playing], the closest way to describe it is satisfaction.”

That sense of accomplishment Joshua says athletic trainers and athletes share can live on well after the work itself. A former athlete from Arkansas State jokes with him to this day: “I can still feel your rehabs.”

Joshua volunteers for events like the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Ironman Louisville. He’s proud to be there to support as others complete what may be a first-time accomplishment.

When not training, Joshua enjoys family life with his wife, Stephanie, and being a dad to his daughter, Rilynn. He’s an avid golfer as well.

Norton Sports Health is committed to providing athletic trainers in physician offices and on the sidelines of local high school and college sports teams. We have athletic trainers who work in our orthopedic/sports health physician offices as well as partner with Jefferson County Public Schools, New Albany/Floyd County High Schools, Spalding University and Bellarmine University. From injury prevention to sideline emergency care to assessment and rehabilitation of injuries to functional return to sport, athletic trainers are well versed in taking care of the needs of athletes and patients of all ages.

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