Colorado Rockies: Q&A with Head Trainer Keith Dugger

May 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; General view of a Colorado Rockies cap and glove in the fifth inning of the game against the New York Mets at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
May 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; General view of a Colorado Rockies cap and glove in the fifth inning of the game against the New York Mets at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Colorado Rockies hat on gloves
Colorado Rockies hats and gloves at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Cubs 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

On Thursday before the Colorado Rockies opened a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves, the Rockies held their annual day to promote the PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Campaign. The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), the Taylor Hooton Foundation and Henry Schein Cares teamed up for the event, and you can read more about the background of the campaign by clicking here.

Several members of the Colorado Rockies took part in the day’s activities, including outfielder Gerardo Parra, pitchers Jairo Diaz and Justin Miller, and head athletic trainer Keith Dugger. Each interacted with local teenage athletes, emphasizing the importance of physical education and the dangers of performance enhancement drugs.

After the event concluded, I had the chance to sit down with Dugger to talk about a number of topics, including the PLAY Campaign, PEDs, and being a trainer who works with a team that plays its home games at high altitude.

Henry: Tell me about the values of the PLAY Campaign and a day like today for kids.

Walt Weiss and Keith Dugger of the Colorado Rockies
Apr 20, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss (left) talks with head athletic trainer Keith Dugger during batting practice prior to the game against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Dugger: Among our peer group, we were talking about how secondary schools and high schools were losing physical education and kids weren’t getting out and being active because they had lost it in the school setting. You don’t have to go play an organized sport to be active. That’s kind of our goal is to reach out and go out and play Frisbee or go out on a walk. Now you have Pokemon Go, but at least people are out and moving.

Childhood obesity and diabetes is drastically increasing right now and we want these people to be aware that you have to live a healthy life and an active life. Be aware of performance enhancement drugs, whether you’re male or female. We just want the word out. Maybe these kids are the only active one in their family, but maybe they can inspire their mom and dad or aunt and uncle to get out and move too.

Henry: You had three players out here with you today. How easy is it to get players involved in something like this?

Dugger: It’s tough because we’re taking away their family time and personal time. In reality, once the players start doing it, they love it. They were these kids not that long ago. Some of them are not too much older than these kids. They like their voice to be heard too. They would rather talk in a setting like this to these kids than go do a TV interview or be in front of a camera. They get to come out here and watch kids play and run and smile and they also get to sign a few autographs. They can also talk about their story. They love when people ask them how they made it or what made them special or what were the goals they set to attain.

Henry: How many times do you do something like this during the season?

Dugger: We do one PLAY campaign. All 30 clubs do one PLAY campaign. But I probably do two or three camps similar to this. This one is special because it is the athletic trainers and strength coaches doing it. Sometimes these kids will ask us questions that may be a little different than they would ask a coach.

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Henry: Talk about the camaraderie there is among all of the trainers in MLB.

Dugger: We have a unique peer group. We’re an education-based society and we provide a lot of scholarships for kids going into college who are working toward an athletic training degree or physical therapy degree. We take in interns throughout Major League Baseball and the minor leagues to get these kids exposed to what professional baseball is. That’s how I got my start. I got exposed to this through an internship in college. All of my assistant trainers I hired from internships. I think every trainer we have in our organization came from an internship. It’s the only true way to see if you’re passionate about working in a certain sport.

Next: Next, We Talk PEDs and Altitude