COLUMBIA -- South Carolina center Web Brown got his cleats caught in the soggy turf of Williams-Brice Stadium last week, slightly spraining his left knee and crumpling to the ground.
Katie Reed swung into action.
While head football athletic trainer Bill Martin and assistant athletic trainer Danny Cobble prodded Brown's knee, making sure it wasn't serious -- it wasn't -- Reed was doing her duties. Those include but aren't limited to: toting water to the rest of the Gamecocks; supplying tape and medical supplies to her superiors; handing out dry towels as the rain pelted the sideline; and most of all, learning.
"I was an athletic training student all through high school," said Reed, who came from Fort Mill High School to USC to study athletic training. "Hopefully I'll get my master's in teaching and go back to the Rock Hill-Fort Mill area and teach and be an athletic trainer."
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Reed, a sophomore, usually has classes from 8 a.m. to around noon before sprinting home for a quick bite. Then it's over to the stadium for a six- or seven-hour work day, preparing USC's tiny training room with taping stations and trying to remember all she's just had crammed into her head.
The job's not for the faint-hearted. Reed spends her days and the majority of evenings around 120 big, sweaty guys who, depending on the practice or game they just finished, might not be in the best of moods.
But it's her calling. She did it throughout her high school career at Fort Mill, loves football and it beats paying for a ticket.
"You have to go through an extensive program your freshman year," Reed said. "You have to go through certain classes and then apply for the program and then have an interview. And they have to accept you.
"We've only got 17 people in our program."
She played soccer in middle school but shin splints shorted out her playing career. She was spending a lot of time in the training room anyway and began to pick up some of the tricks of the trade.
"It was like a given ever since she started doing it in high school," said Reed's mother, Kathy Reed. "When we went to visit USC, I asked people there if it was a true major. This is really her first real experience doing it."
Katie mostly sticks with USC's offensive line during practices, a group that's had its share of rotation and injuries this season. She says they're a fun bunch, joking about letting her put on a uniform and take a few reps one day.
Just as long as she doesn't get hurt. If she's down and some North Carolina lineman lays out one of them Saturday, where would they be?
"We want to do an athletic trainer bowl, we want to get in their pads," she said. "They're like, 'No, you'll get hurt.'"
Martin and Cobble handle most of the on-field injuries, but Reed and the other student trainers help. Before the practices and games, Reed tapes ankles, elbows, etc. or gets the various braces adjusted while setting up water pumps and filling ice bags.
Those dripping packs applied to Mike Davis' thigh after a 38-21 win over Mississippi State or the crutches Nathan Pepper had to use when he was hurt against S.C. State -- that's the handiwork of Reed and her brethren.
It's not an easy task. Reed estimated the team runs through at least two cases of Powerflex tape per week (24 rolls a case).
That's a lot of fingers.
And forget about spare time. Kathy doesn't get many details about what her daughter's doing simply because there's not many opportunities to call.
"She's too busy," said Kathy, who's a nurse. "But she looked around for her athletic training majors. Probably knows more about bones and joints than I'll ever know."
Katie said it's tiring but rewarding. The Gamecocks have had some injuries this year -- losing linebacker Jasper Brinkley to a torn-up knee was a huge blow -- but overall have been pretty lucky avoiding the really bad ones.
"This was solely based on ... I got injured in ninth grade and I spent a lot of time in our athletic training room," she said. "This is what I do."