Sonday, THHS alum, in the big leaguesIn spite of his demanding schedule, Dan Sonday says he loves his work. He’s a 2006 graduate of Two Harbors High School and later earned a master’s degree in sports medicine from the College of St. Scholastica.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
In spite of his demanding schedule, Dan Sonday says he loves his work. He’s a 2006 graduate of Two Harbors High School and later earned a master’s degree in sports medicine from the College of St. Scholastica.
Sonday, who was in Lake County fishing and visiting family last weekend, works full time for Summit Orthopedics during the week and travels weekends as the athletic trainer for the Minnesota Swarm professional lacrosse team out of the Twin Cities, a client of Summit. During the team’s season, he estimates that he puts in a 40–75 hour work week and travels far and wide –Toronto and Calgary and points in between in the U.S. and Canada.
“I love doing this,” he said. “When you’re at a game, you have to have your game face on. When (the lacrosse team is) not at practice or a game, it’s time to mellow out and relax and have fun. Every weekend it’s something, they’re the goofiest guys you’ll ever meet.”
Sonday said his work provides challenges and an unlimited opportunity to learn new things. He specifically chose Summit from among a handful of offers because of their reputation and years of experience.
“Dr. Drogt has 20 years of experience. He’s been practicing almost longer than I’ve been alive and Dr. Zeller is a pain management specialist. Both asked me to be on their team. With his reputation, (Dr. Drogt) is not a guy you say ‘no’ to. It was just a great opportunity,” Sonday said.
Lacrosse has been acquiring more fans over the years. There are nine teams in the National Lacrosse League and they play in arenas on turf covered hockey rinks. The players catch, carry and pass a small ball using hand-held net on a stick. They score by getting the ball past a goaltender. It contains elements of many modern sports, but the written history of the game dates back to the 1600s when Jesuits observed Iroquois playing in the Americas. Sonday said the game is a great family activity, with something for everyone.
“At our last game there were 12,500 people and we’ve had as many as 15,000. It’s definitely gaining popularity.” One reason is that there’s seldom a dull moment on the field.
“It’s constant action and very physical,” he said, and in case younger family members’ attention spans wane, “they play music throughout the game so the kids dance and have a great time.”
The non-stop action on the field keeps Sonday busy too, either providing acute care or watching for more subtle signs that an athlete has been hurt.
“When you see someone get injured in a game, the first person who runs out on the field is the athletic trainer,” he said. He treats ACL tears, shoulder injuries, broken bones, sprains and bruises, but also monitors players for abnormalities in gait or other movement, which could be evidence of a head injury. His careful observation and attention to players’ well-being have made for good working relationships and trust between team members and their trainer.
“(Dan) has a huge role,” said Alec Schimke, Media and Lacrosse Relations Manager for the Minnesota Swarm in a phone interview with the Lake County News-Chronicle. “The players have to trust him. He’s formed a really strong bond with the players, he’s really passionate about what he does and he’s been the best (athletic trainer) we’ve had so far.”
“It’s a very rewarding job. The team feels comfortable with me now; they trust me and I’ve developed a lot of really good relationships with the doctors and managers. It’s been really good,” Sonday said.
Asked what advice he had for students now graduating from his alma mater, he said: “If you show initiative and have an encouraging and positive attitude more doors will open that what you’d expect.”
Carving a weekend out of his schedule to return to Two Harbors was no small task, but Sonday said he enjoys returning to his hometown where his parents, Tim and Susan, live.
“I love the small town feel. Growing up hunting and fishing was something you’d take for granted, but you don’t realize until you’re gone what’s really here. I’m glad my parents are here. It’s really welcoming to come home,” he said.