WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Aside from his sterling work with the athletes he oversees at King’s College, Greg Janik spends some of his energy trying to fix state legislature.
From aching bodies to ailing laws that govern the way they’re treated, Janik simply enjoys helping heal things.
Maybe that’s why he’s recognized as the best.
Janik, a Penn State grad and former Philadelphia Eagles intern, will be announced today as the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s head athletic trainer of the year for Division III.
“Oh man,” Janik said. “It’s certainly a humbling honor. This is an honor for King’s College, for our conference. No one does it on an island.”
His work, though, stands alone at the top.
As president of the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Society, Janik helped lead the way for licensure for athletic trainers, and helping state government re-write and pass a concussion-management law.
“I’m certainly no politician,” Janik, an Easton native and Dallas resident, said. “I’ve always been a person who wasn’t afraid to express myself for causes I thought I could help. These things weren’t written very well, or they could be done better. The reason (he has influence in writing state sports health laws) is the politicians and legislators see I care.”
That’s not hard for anyone to notice, given that Janik has mentored dozens of assistants and hundreds of students at King’s on the nuances of his profession during his seven seasons at head athletic trainer at King’s.
Janik took his teaching of sports training to an even higher level in 2008, developing and moderating the first Pennsylvania student quiz bowl — a competition of sports training knowledge for students from various colleges. Later, that challenge grew into a national competition.
“That awards are great. If I can have a few students that get inspired by it, that’s what it’s all about,” Janik said.
For him, it’s also about caring for 19 varsity sports, as well as cheerleading, at King’s. Janik works with a staff of eight assistant trainers to ensure medical coverage for all practices and games at King’s. His extraordinary work ethic and medical care twice earned him the school’s John Dorish Award for outstanding service by vote of the football team and athletic department at King’s.
The 37-year-old Janik, a Wilson High School grad, originally planned to take up physical therapy in college, but followed his girlfriend to Penn State’s Hazleton campus and changed his career path.
“They didn’t have physical therapy,” Janik said. “They had athletic training. That was the closest thing.”
Janik pursued the major at Penn State’s main campus for three years until his graduation, then received his master’s degree in sports health care from the Arizona School of Health Sciences at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.
He spent the 1999 NFL season interning with the Eagles. He said he learned valuable ideas that year from the team’s head trainer that season Rick Burkholder (now in Kansas City with former Eagles coach Andy Reid) and former Eagles assistant and Hazleton native Eric Sugarman, now the head trainer for the Minnesota Vikings.
“Rick taught me a lot. I keep in touch with those guys,” Janik said.
He joined the King’s training staff in 2000, and as spent the past seven years as the program’s head trainer, a position he sees himself in for the foreseeable future.
“My aspirations coming out of school were to work at the professional level,” Janik said. “King’s, I came into it as a start-up job. Now, I can see myself here for as long as King’s will keep me.”