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Old 08-12-2009, 05:00 PM   #1
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Default Knoch trainer Geist helps out with Steelers

Knoch trainer Geist helps out with Steelers
By Brian Kaminski
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

John Geist often lets his work do the talking.

Geist has been an athletic trainer at Knoch for 19 years, so he's helped many high school athletes.

And for past eight years, he's spent his summers with a another set of athletes Steelers players.

In 2001, Geist was selected to be a trainer for the Steelers during training camp, and he's returned every year since. He helps Steelers head trainer John Norwig at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

"It started through UPMC, and I was selected to interview for the camp," Geist said. "I got to know the people there and hit it off with them."

One of the reasons Geist, 41, was selected to work at training camp was his experience in athletic training, something Norwig noticed immediately.

"He was more seasoned than some of the other new hires that we had," Norwig said. "He's a mature guy with a very solid work ethic. He came in and took a leadership role."

Approximately 10 trainers work for the team during training camp three full-time trainers and seven that work only during camp.

Geist often has student trainers from local colleges with him to introduce them into the world of professional athletic training.

"We take students from Duquesne and students from Pitt if they have quality candidates," Norwig said. "They get some good experience, as we try to provide the best possible care in the world, and John is a big part of that."

One of the student trainers working in Latrobe is Bonnie Virag, a Highlands graduate and Duquesne student who's doing an internship with the Steelers.

Geist makes sure to use the experience that he gains at training camp to help his student-athletes at Knoch, as well.

Although he now resides in Freeport, it's been a dream come true for Geist to work for almost 20 years at Knoch, his alma mater.

"When I first got hired, I was working with all the teachers that I used to have," Geist said. "The kids I graduated with now are the moms and dads of the kids coming through the system now."

Geist also has been able to network and gain other opportunities because of his time at training camp. He met Welsh National Rugby Team's physiotherapist and learned more techniques.

"I went over to see one of their games this past year when they were in Chicago," Geist said. "It's opened up a lot of networks, and it's nice to meet those connections."

Ultimately, even though the thrill of making sure the Steelers don't injure themselves while practicing and preparing for the NFL season may be tempting for some, Geist always has a self-imposed deadline when he leaves training camp.

"I stay for two weeks until the high school season starts," Geist said. "When the high school team breaks for camp, I come back to them."

Knoch opens camp Aug. 17 in Saxonburg.
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