AT Alum Returns Home for UK's NCAA First Round matchup

It will be an exciting homecoming for Geoffrey Staton, head athletic trainer of the Kentucky men’s basketball team, when he travels with the Wildcats to Greensboro, N.C., to face Providence in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at just after 7 p.m. Friday.

He hopes it will be an extended stay, which could then lead on to a trip to New York City for the Sweet Sixteen. 

As the head athletic trainer, Staton, in conjunction with Kentucky’s medical staff, manages the daily healthcare of the Kentucky men’s basketball team and operation of the training room. Those duties include daily injury and illness management, evaluations, treatments, rehabilitation protocols, corrective exercises, recovery strategies, referrals, and post-operative care.

Staton works closely with the coaches and UK men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach to provide the best plan for players to maximize their health and athletic performance, in addition to coverage for all workouts, practices, shootarounds and games.

It has been a busy few weeks for the training staff, which has been trying to get several players back to 100 percent, including Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace and CJ Frederick. 

"We had a couple of days off from the regular season to the SEC tournament, so I couldn't get in the gym, Wheeler told reporters Thursday. "I was doing a lot of treatment and massaging. Just getting my body right, listening to Geoff [Geoffrey Staton] and the doctors. We've got the best training staff."

Staton, who received his master’s degree in athletic training from UK in 2010, also worked with basketball coach John Calipari as the head athletic trainer during the FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo in the summer of 2017 (Calipari was the head coach of that team that won the bronze medal).

In his first season, Staton’s hands-on injury management and treatment plans helped guide the Wildcats through a rash of injuries early in the season and kept UK on track to win the 2020 Southeastern Conference championship. With Staton’s post-operative care and rehabilitation protocols, graduate student Nate Sestina returned to the court more than a week ahead of schedule after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured left wrist.

Staton played a vital role in a challenging and unprecedented 2020-21 season. Tasked with leading the day-to-day management of the team’s COVID-19 safety protocols and return-to-play execution, Staton — in coordination with university and athletic health officials — oversaw all testing and program compliance of all players, coaches and staff members to ensure individuals were healthy and safe during the global pandemic. The Wildcats made it through the season with minimal issues and only one UK-related postponement.

In addition to COVID-19 guidance, Staton also played a key role in the return of Keion Brooks Jr. early in conference player after suffering a leg injury in the preseason and helped Terrence Clarke return to the court for the final game of the season after missing the conference season with a right leg injury.

Off the court, Staton was also recently recognized as UK's Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence winner.

"As a UK alum, it is also a great honor to be connected to an award named for someone whose life’s work advanced education and equality for African Americans," he said. "The significance of having a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky means more knowing that the opportunity was made possible by Lyman T. Johnson and his contributions dating back to 1949.  I truly appreciate this award and hope to continue to have a positive impact on the lives of others that reflects the faith, hard work and determination of Lyman T. Johnson’s legacy."

In the past, Staton worked with Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns for a season as an assistant athletic trainer. He was charged with assisting with the day-to-day duties of the training room and injury/illness management of NBA roster and assigned G League players, sharing bench and locker room responsibilities for each home and away game, and assisting with post-practice and postgame treatment and recovery efforts.

Prior to his stint with the Suns, Staton was a senior associate athletic trainer at the University of South Florida, where he worked exclusively with the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs. In addition to his primary responsibilities, Staton started the “Bulls Eye” initiative, monthly performance team meetings to improve athletic performance, injury prevention, interdepartmental collaboration and holistic athlete care. He also headed up Vitamin D testing, sleep tracking, RPE tracking and mental health meetings to improve health and performance.

Staton’s other stops include the University of North Carolina (September 2014 to June 2017), where he was the head athletic trainer for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving and softball programs, and High Point University (July 2010 to September 2014), where he worked with men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse before taking over men’s basketball duties in the second half of his stay. He also oversaw the staff that worked with women’s basketball, volleyball, cheer and dance at High Point. At both universities, Staton was a leader in creating collaborative strategies to ensure all aspects of the student-athlete’s head and performance were considered.

During his previous stint at Kentucky (May 2008 to May 2010), he was the primary athletic trainer for the women’s gymnastics and dance teams.

Staton worked as a summer intern with the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) in 2007 and had diverse clinical rotations with track and field, softball, men’s soccer, and men’s lacrosse at UNC as an undergraduate student.

Staton is a NATABOC Certified Athletic Trainer and is also a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

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