Posted: Aug 02, 2018
By Kaitlyn Parcell '20
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - As Santa Clara baseball concluded its 2018 season with a .500 record for the first time since 2008, the program is happy to give credit to a behind the scenes staff member that does not get the spotlight he deserves.
This season was the first year that Stan Conte worked with Santa Clara baseball, as the Assistant Director of Sports Medicine, showing the program how his 24 years in Major League Baseball and certification as both a licensed Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer could greatly benefit the program.
Sixth year senior pitcher Steven Wilson had Tommy John (UCL reconstruction) surgery in February of 2017 and was about nine months into his rehabilitation program when Conte began working with him.
"He altered my program and my arm care routine so that I could be ready for the season... and now this is the best my arm has felt in a long time, so his programs really work," said Wilson, who finished the 2018 season with a 4-1 record along four saves and a 3.07 ERA. Wilson started in nine of the 16 games he appeared in striking out 58 over 44 innings of work helping him get drafted by the San Diego Padres in the eighth round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft in June.
One of the many things Conte brings to Santa Clara after his time in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco organizations is the professional network he's built up in the Bay Area, including former San Francisco Giants players Robby Thompson, Matt Williams, and Bud Black.
"These were the guys that really taught me how to work with professional athletes," said Conte. "There's a culture in every sport and there are certain routines and things that happen in baseball, it's not just about going in and treating a player, so you have to know about the culture and these guys were very good about telling you what to do and what not to do."
First-year Bronco head coach Rusty Filter reached out to Conte after seeing him on a recruiting trip. "I had known of his name, read some articles of his, and knew we needed another trainer, so I reached out to him to see if there was any interest and everything just fell into place from there," said Filter.
Filter mentioned, "Experience within a sport at any level is difficult to find in college sports," when asked about the 24 years Conte spent in the majors. Conte said he was drawn to the program because, "They were revamping it and asked me to help. I thought it was fascinating, I thought it was gonna be a lot of fun, there was a lot of things to do so I decided I would go ahead and try it."
Filter's background as one of the top pitching coaches in the nation at Stanford and San Diego State for the last 25 years, makes arm care and development a big priority for his teams. Conte's extensive knowledge about UCL injury prevention makes the two a good fit.
Conte has written articles about typical baseball injuries, including several on UCL injuries, that have been published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. He also continues to do work with Major League Baseball by serving on multiple research committees including the well-known UCL Research Committee.
In regards to how Conte functions as a member of the program, Filter said, "He's more than just a trainer, he's constantly trying to evolve with the game and spends a lot of time with his research, he's still involved with publishing articles with Major League Baseball. He's here seven days a week, and is really invested in the team and the outcome and knows a lot about the game."
Conte mentioned that what he has tried to bring to the program is, "A sense of professionalism, a continuity of routine and dedication to a preventative program to try to prevent some of these injuries that especially pitchers have. I try to educate the players on how to take care of their bodies to make sure they can actually go out and perform."
There is no doubt that Conte has helped players like Wilson return to the game through his rehabilitation programs, but he has also played a big role in keeping players healthy so that they can stay in the game. His 24 years in MLB have helped to give him valuable experience to help push the Santa Clara program to the next level.
"Winning and losing comes down to who gets out on the field, and if guys are hurt, then you have no chance to win," said Conte.