DEGREE: BS, kinesiology, College of Public Health, 2002
OCCUPATION: Pro practitioner
As the crowd cheers, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James drives downcourt to the basket, jumps into the air and shoves the ball through the net. But coming down, James falls to the floor, where he grabs his ankle and winces.
As soon as the referee’s whistle stops the game, Stephen Spiro, CPH ’02, the Cavaliers’ head athletic trainer, rushes from his courtside seat to attend to the basketball superstar.
James is not injured, but Spiro advises him to take a break from the game to rest his leg.
“There’s no secret formula to preventing injuries,” Spiro says. “If a guy lands on someone’s foot, I can’t prevent an ankle sprain. But what I can do is pick them up and help them heal once an injury occurs.”
Spiro doesn’t just try to prevent and respond to players’ injuries, he works to improve athletic performance, as well.
“These guys already have great skills. What I try to do is positively influence their game by a few percentage points,” he says. “If I can get them to perform even 2 percent better out on the floor, then I’m doing my job.”
That job is what Spiro was hoping for when he enrolled in Temple’s Kinesiology program. “I was looking for a way to combine medicine—my father was a physician’s assistant—and my love of sports,” he says. “Temple has a great athletic training program and great people.”
He still considers Temple’s former men’s basketball Coach John Chaney and current Head Coach Fran Dunphy as his mentors. “I wouldn’t be here today without their love and guidance.”
Spiro went on to earn a master’s degree in sports medicine at Florida’s Miami University. After a stint in professional baseball with the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Red Sox, he returned to Temple as an assistant athletic trainer responsible for the men’s basketball team. He joined the Cavaliers as an assistant in 2010 and was promoted to his current position in 2013.
On the sidelines at Cavaliers games, Spiro wears a tie and sweater, but when he’s at home watching sports on TV, he gets his cherry on. “I still have all my Temple shirts,” he says with a laugh. “Temple is home away from home for me.”