The Yale Athletic Department took the first steps to address concerns of understaffing in sports medicine on Saturday, when the Yale football program announced the hiring of an assistant athletics director primarily responsible for the football, as well as the appointment of a new orthopedic consultant.
Head coach Tony Reno made the announcement during an on-field award ceremony following the annual Blue-White spring football scrimmage. He introduced Paul Smith, a current assistant athletic trainer at Boise State, as Yale’s new “head football trainer.” According to Director of Sports Medicine Chris Pecora, Smith is coordinating all athletic training services with football. He is currently assigned to no other sports besides football and will serve as an assistant athletic director.
Reno also said that Yale School of Medicine professor of orthopaedic surgery Elizabeth Gardner ’01 would serve as an orthopedic consultant to the team for the 2017 season, a position she already holds with the men’s lacrosse team.
“We are very excited about the appointment of Dr. Gardner and the hiring of Paul Smith,” Reno said. “They are both wonderful people who are truly invested in the values of Yale University and the care of the men of Yale football.”
Gardner was no stranger to Yale — or its athletic program — when she was first hired three years ago: She played field hockey and lacrosse for the Bulldogs, captaining the lacrosse team in 2001. In addition to her current position at the medical school, Gardner serves as a fellow in Davenport College and an undergraduate freshman adviser.
After graduating from Yale, Gardner attended medical school at Emory University and also worked in the athletic department at the University of Michigan. Before returning to New Haven, she worked with the powerhouse Wolverine football team as a sports medicine fellow at Michigan.
Born in Middletown, Smith returns to his home state after serving as an assistant athletic trainer at Boise State for the past three years. As an undergraduate student at Boston University, Smith worked with several athletic programs in the Boston area including Boston College, Emerson College and his alma mater. Smith then went on to earn his Master of Kinesiology in 2014 from Boise State and worked as a graduate assistant with the wrestling team before moving to the football team after graduation.
Smith’s addition to the program will give Yale a total of 11 certified full-time athletic trainers, plus Pecora. Head Athletic Trainer Jay Cordone will continue to split his time between the football and men’s lacrosse teams.
“I think it’s a great first step,” captain and linebacker Darius Manora ’17 said. “I think the Athletic Department has made huge progress in a very short timeline.”
Director of Athletics Tom Beckett met with Provost Ben Polak and the University Budget Committee on March 3 to present the Athletic Department’s annual budget for the 2017–18 calendar year. Included in the budget was a plan to hire two new full-time trainers. Smith replaces a staff member who left last summer and is likely not one of the two new hires.
The Yale football team went 3–7 last season, capping off the 2016 campaign with a 21–14 win over Harvard.