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Q&A: FSU director of sports medicine Scott Trulock

Florida State hired Orlando native Scott Trulock as its director of sports medicine in July. Trulock recently spent seven years with the Jacksonville Jaguars and prior to that spent time with the University of North Carolina football program as well as in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers.

Trulock is often observing from the sideline at FSU football practices but he is responsible for all 20 of FSU’s sports, coordinating with coaches, trainers, doctors and nutritionists, among others.

“My experiences have been split, I’ve had some great opportunities,” Trulock said. “I’ve spent almost 20 years in the National Football League and almost a decade in intercollegiate sports. So had some experiences in both. I grew up in Orlando, so I’m kind of from these parts. Very familiar with this school, most of my family went to Florida State. I spent a lot of time here growing up. It’s just an exciting opportunity, obviously being contacted by David Coburn and coach (Mike) Norvell and the rest of the coaches. And it was really the vision they had for the sports medicine department and looking forward and the continued evolution of taking sports medicine and blending it more with the performance team.”

Trulock spoke with the media on Thursday about his role with FSU:

How much of a focal point is mental health?

Trulock: It’s a huge part. If you were to ask me to look in my years, almost 30 years, if we look back at the points, and what our focus was, say, 10, 20 years ago, or the concussion crisis, it was an area where we really felt like we didn’t have a means of managing it. And we’ve come a long way. We’ve come a long way in managing that or nutrition, maybe 10 years ago, that was the edge. Whereas right now, I really say mental health is kind of the area where we see the biggest need and evolving our care. And we’re doing that, obviously, both at the campus and in the athletics world. But that’s a very big part of the integration into the total health and performance for the student-athlete.

Is there a big difference between working with college and pro athletes?

Trulock: Sure. Obviously, just from an age standpoint, when you’re dealing with intercollegiate athletes, you’re raising kids, you’re kind of finishing that job of raising individuals. So it’s a lot of the basic personal care-type things of helping them understand that as an athlete, your body is your business. And so how important it is for you to best invest your time and energy into your own personal care, we are a resource, and we can provide that. So it’s teaching them that. 

How difficult is it to juggle not just football but all of FSU’s sports?

Trulock: My role obviously is going to be with all sports. Obviously, football is in the heart of training camp right now. So I’m very involved there. But my responsibility is kind of coordinating the rest of the athletic trainers, 20 sports, 500 athletes. And so it’s taking that model and applying it to every sport. Every sport essentially has a performance team. The athletic trainer, the nutritionist, the physicians, the strength coaches, all working together and meeting every day to review the athletes and what the areas where we can improve. Because a lot of times when you have those type meetings, there’s bits and pieces of information, maybe the strength coaches saw something in the weight room that day, or maybe the nutritionist saw something in a meeting with them that we can all help. And by doing that we can kind of work together.

We’ve seen a number of athletes in various sports with watches and wearables? How does the technology help in the evaluation of athletes?

Trulock: Wearable technologies is a big frontier for us in sports right now and there’s a couple different ones. In football, we use the GPS tracking. And what that does, Coach Storms and his staff compile that information, but we’re able to see the type of loads or the stress in the player, how much ground they cover, how fast they’re running. We’ve created indexes where you combine all that to determine the player loads. The faster you run, the more you change direction, the greater stress it is on your body. And so every day we look at that information and we compare where different athletes are and we see an athlete and what his capacities are. From a medical perspective we can really use that to see is an athlete ascending or is he struggling somewhere? We can see in his loads maybe there’s something bothering him and kind of connect with him and figure out what might be affecting him. Likewise, when an athlete’s coming back from the injury, obviously we want to progress him. We don’t want him doing too much too soon. So we can set goals and loads and we can literally monitor that in real time to during practice to know what he’s done and to make sure he progresses. Soccer uses whoop, it’s a different device that measures some different biometric indexes and respiration. … And the tools are different for different sports, you can kind of focus in on some different metrics. That is a critical piece and a big frontier in the area of sports medicine performance right now.