March is Athletic Training Month and we are very proud to spotlight talented and passionate Certified Athletic Trainers who dedicate themselves to the performance of their athletes. They also understand the benefits of integrating Boost Oxygen into their protocols.
Today we thank Dan ‘Beaker’ Stuck of the legendary Hershey Bears for sharing his time with us about what it means to him to be an Athletic Trainer.
When did you decide to become an Athletic Trainer?
In high school in the early 1980’s, I played a lot of different sports, and with that, I took an interest in the athletic training field. Our trainers not only took care of me physically, but they also assisted me mentally as well. It was always just a good environment with them. That was my first introduction to the occupation.
What is/was the most rewarding part of your job?
For me, I think it’s just knowing the comfort level and the trust players have in you. I think assisting a player through injury, or even influencing them to push through a little pain, and then you watch them go out and score the winning goal, it makes you feel like you got an assist on the play without showing up on the scoresheet. Not being in the spotlight and helping these guys perform at the highest level behind the scenes is very rewarding.
What is/was the most challenging part of your job?
Well we’re gone on the road a lot, so trying to remember my wife’s birthday when we’re away can be difficult! No for real, family is everything to me, and having a great support system is key. It’s tough missing things like birthdays and special events when you’re away with the team. You miss out on a lot of valuable time with your loved ones, so to have them there supporting your career and what you love to do is so appreciated. Technology has certainly made it easier over the years to keep in touch.
Describe the most amazing experience that affirmed your decision that "I am doing what I love to do":
I just love taking care of people day in and day out. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping others, and the best thing is after a long, grueling season seeing the team go into the playoffs and win a championship. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of five championship teams, and it’s so rewarding to see the work the team put in end with glory. There are a lot of long nights and weekends away, and it’s a great life lesson to see how it takes the whole team on the same page to win. Getting to share that success and the Cup with family and friends, it really shows how the sacrifice everyone made was so worth it.
Throughout my career, I have never been afraid to innovate with how I support my players. I consider Boost Oxygen to be an alternate way to provide my players with a boost of energy and support their recovery during an intense moment in the game.
Dan "Beaker" Stuck serves as the Bears Manager of Wellness and Team Affairs, a role he moved into in 2018 after serving as the team's Head Trainer since 1985. Stuck became Hershey's assistant trainer in 1983, and then took a year away to become the assistant equipment manager for the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. The following season, in 1985-86, he was named Hershey's Head Trainer, a position he held until moving into a new role in 2018.
The man they call "Beaker" has witnessed championships in 1987-88, 1996-97, 2005-06, 2008-09, and 2009-10 under John Paddock, Bob Hartley, Bruce Boudreau, Bob Woods, and Mark French. Stuck, one of the most decorated trainers in league history, is a veteran of over 2,600 games and worked seven All-Star games.
In 2014, Stuck was the first recipient of the Career Achievement Alumni Award from the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society/Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers recognizing his dedication and excellence in his field.
Stuck's main responsibilities include working with the hockey operations staff to help maintain the rich tradition of Hershey Bears Hockey within the locker room with the players and coaches.
Stuck lives in Palmyra, Pennsylvania with his wife Janice. He has a daughter, Alexis, as well as a son Dustin, who serves as the head athletic trainer with the Providence Bruins.