The play was right there in front of her. Laura Chandler, playing center field for Keene State, watched as an opponent slid into second base, cleats up and opened a gash above her teammate’s eye. Before the trainer got to the scene, Chandler was already there and putting her athletic trainer major to good use.

“Usually when one of my teammates goes down, I am in center field and I usually get there before the trainer,” Chandler said. “I am the first one on it because the trainers have to wait until the umpire says it’s alright to be on the field. [Her teammate] actually needed stitches. It helps when they need you out there.”

Her teammates have needed Chandler all season. The Wakefield, Mass., senior has been rock steady for the Owls hitting .391 with three home runs and 11 RBI. She is a big part why her team is 10-4 after being swept by Eastern Connecticut State last weekend and looking to be a factor in the postseason. She’s there to take care of the scrapes and bruises her teammates get along the way, and her job last summer wholly prepared her for it.

Usually when one of my teammates goes down, I am in center field and I usually get there before the trainer, I am the first one on it because the trainers have to wait until the umpire says it’s alright to be on the field.
-- Keene State CF Laura Chandler 

Looking for employment, Chandler came across a Craigslist ad for a job working at the Boston Red Sox Academy. She applied for a coaching position thinking she’d go there with the chance to teach kids 5 to 14 years old the fundamentals of baseball. She thought it would be great to do that and give a weekly tour of Fenway with the kids and watch their faces glow when meeting a member of the Red Sox. Once the people there saw she had an athletic trainer background, those plans changed.

“My boss asked me if I wanted to be kind of like camp nurse. So I said, ‘Yeah, sure, that’s fine.’ I was camp nurse and customer service assistant. It was a very interesting summer.”

So her summer was taken up by scraped knees and elbows and soothing summer camp fears.

“It was always something,” Chandler said. “‘I don’t feel good, my tummy hurts. I miss my parents, I want to go home.’ Stuff like that. So for me it’s more like, ‘Oh my God! Are you OK? What’s wrong? Do you need help?’ You basically see what’s going on with them. Sometimes they just need a little boost. And sometimes they may be faking it and just need the extra attention. They’re just little kids, so I was OK with that.”

As long as they spoke English. Her most challenging situation of the summer was when she was dealing with a kid with severe allergies. His right eye was so swollen he could not see out of it. In addition he only spoke French. It was panic time.

“I did not have a clue what he was saying to me,” Chandler said. “Nor did I know how to communicate with him at all. Luckily, one of our coaches spoke French. We actually managed to call his dad and asked him to bring some medication over because his dad spoke English. Situations like that only help you. You grow from it.”

As have the Owls this season. They have been infused by freshmen talent that has helped the team grow into the solid squad it has become. Chandler credits them with keeping Keene State in contention for the conference title.

“We were coming in with a relatively experienced team,” Chandler said. “But we played a few new freshmen who are really talented, and they’ve made a huge contribution to the team this year. The maturity that they show on the field is just great. It makes our team that much stronger.

“We have so much confidence in ourselves, confidence that we can beat nationally-ranked teams – which we did do while we were in Florida earlier in the season. We’re striving to win the LEC championship this year. We want to [eventually] beat Eastern Connecticut because they’ve been this awesome team for so long. By winning the LEC we’ll be put into NCAAs, which is really what we’re striving for. We’re taking it one win at a time. Two wins at a time if we’re playing doubleheaders. We’ll get there.”

Chandler hopes to get there at the camp this summer as a coach. It is something she’s looking forward to and to leaving retrieving the lost gloves and other duties as nurse and customer service representative behind.

“Last summer was geared toward my major,” Chandler said. “And this summer will be about coaching. I can’t wait.”