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Athletic Trainer Spotlight: Paul Silvestri, ATC

March 24, 2016

When Paul Silvestri entered the University of Florida in the fall of 1996, his plan was to major in pre-med and become an orthopedic surgeon. He started on that path, confident of his career direction…until his older brother started looking into athletic training at the University of South Florida.

“My brother was helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on game days. I’ve always played sports and love sports, and he told me I might really like athletic training. He got me on the sidelines of a game against the Lions. I got to hang out with the athletic training staff and go behind the scenes, and that was it. I love sports and love medicine, and athletic training fell right into my wheelhouse. I was excited about being involved with medicine and sports on a daily basis, found out that the University of Florida had a program, and changed majors.”

After graduating in the spring of 2000, Paul did a summer internship with the Miami Dolphins, then a fall football internship with the University of Mississippi. In the summer of 2001, he entered graduate school at the University of Kentucky, working with the football team and serving as a graduate assistant.

Paul’s first job out of grad school was with Florida Atlantic University from 2003-2005. Then he returned to the University of Kentucky as the full-time assistant athletic trainer with the football team for three years, and in the spring of 2008 headed to the University of Utah where he was head athletic trainer for football for five seasons.

“I moved to Gainesville for my current job I 2013, and hopefully it’s my last stop,” Paul says. For the Gators, he serves as associate director of sports health, and head athletic trainer for the football team.

Paul says he feels very fortunate that he had the opportunity to work for some of the outstanding leaders in the profession, “great mentors to me who helped shape my career. These include Chris Patrick of the University of Florida who has been here 46 years and is in the Athletic Trainer Hall of Fame and Jim Madaleno at Kentucky. They’ve been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today, and I have learned so much by watching how they do things.”

One of the important things Paul has learned that he says he always tells student athletic trainers and his staff, is that the profession of athletic training is all about relationships and trust. “The only way to develop trust is through relationships,” he says, “not only with athletes but with administrators, coaches, and parents. The relationship piece is key. You never know on a daily basis when you’re interacting with someone that could help you down the road. It’s important to always be professional.”

Paul joined Cramer’s athletic trainer advisory board last year, and says he is enjoying that experience. “I’ve never been a part of anything like that,” he explains. “We talk about new products, hear about the challenges that others in our field are facing, and just the common problems and issues we come across on a daily basis. Athletic trainers by nature are think-outside-the-box people, so it’s great being a part of the conversation.”

Paul is married and has a daughter who is almost six, and a three-year-old son. He played baseball and basketball in high school, but says that these days he is focused on his golf game.