Archie's Message About the MPA and Thibodaux Regional's Sports Medicine Center

Late this June, more than a thousand young athletes packed up their shorts, sneakers and gridiron ambitions and descended upon the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University. The 1250 campers came to sharpen their skills under the careful tutelage of the Manning family football dynasty and top collegiate quarterbacks from across the country who served as counselors.

For the fifth year, Thibodaux Regional Health System and its athletic trainers ensured the safety of everyone involved, which is no easy task in the broiling South Louisiana summer heat. For the patriarch of the Manning family, knowing Thibodaux Regional is guarding the health of this incredible talent pool provides an unparalleled sense of confidence.

“It would be impossible to do the Academy without the expertise and professionalism of experienced athletic trainers,” Archie Manning says. “Thibodaux Regional’s friendship and partnership allows all of us to know that these kids are in the best possible hands. These athletes can take full advantage of all of the opportunities this Academy provides, without worrying about what happens in case of an emergency. Parents - especially those who are out of town – are especially thrilled to learn about Thibodaux Regional’s role in the Manning Passing Academy.”

Campers come to the Manning Passing Academy from across the United States, as well as from other countries. The Manning family and the parents of these young athletes put a tremendous amount of trust in Thibodaux Regional’s athletic trainers to handle all emergencies, big or small.

Larry D’Antoni, Coordinator of Thibodaux Regional’s Sports Medicine Center, has been keeping the Manning Passing Academy safe for 9 years. This year, he supervised a staff of 60 athletic trainers and aides, coming in from all across the region.

“Thibodaux Regional athletic trainers and their interns were on hand to provide hydration, injury prevention, injury evaluation and medical treatment,” D’Antoni says. “Athletic trainers are in attendance at all practices, as well as on call throughout the night to handle any medical issues. We also monitor the weather for excessive heat and lightning threats.”

The opportunity to work with Thibodaux Regional’s award-winning staff and the talent of the MPA attracts athletic trainers from Texas, Tennessee, Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.

“The athletic trainers learn teamwork, organizational skills, time management, and heat illness prevention techniques,” says D’Antoni. “My goal is that everyone makes it through camp safely. So far, we’ve achieved that goal each and every year.”

In fact, Thibodaux Regional’s reputation is so well regarded that some of the most respected athletic trainers from championship professional teams choose to attend and help the Thibodaux Regional staff year after year, such as Barry Weinberg. He has spent over 40 years caring for athletes from the Minor League to the World Series, working for teams that include the St. Louis Cardinals, the Oakland A’s, the Yankees and the Pirates.

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“I put this on my calendar for next year almost the day after we end because it’s such an amazing experience,” Weinberg says. “Each year you meet someone new. Each year you meet someone exciting. The whole experience is world class. I cherish spending time with the Mannings and the amazing sports medicine staff at Thibodaux Regional.”

Football analyst and radio host Mike Detillier calls Thibodaux Regional’s athletic trainers the unsung heroes of the MPA. “It amazes me how quickly the athletic trainers can spot someone dealing with heat/dehydration issues,” Detillier says. “I grew up in a sports world where they didn’t give you water. Now, we understand how important it is to hydrate the body. Problem is, some players try to be the tough guy and won’t say anything until there is an issue like cramping. Larry D’Antoni and his trainers do a spectacular job of recognizing warning signs, preventing problems and communicating with these athletes.”

The combination of Thibodaux Regional’s medical expertise and the Manning Family’s football prowess has combined to make this Academy one of the nation’s premiere summer camps. It’s common to see a star athlete’s name associated with a camp like this, but it’s rare to see that star in attendance for an extended period of time.

“I think the primary reason we ‘ve been so successful - is that in 23 years- none of us have missed one minute of camp,” Manning says. “Cooper, Peyton, Eli and myself are so proud of this Academy, and we’re there from the first moment until the last.”

It’s not just campers that take notice. The nation’s top collegiate quarterbacks consider it to be a significant honor if invited to be a counselor. In fact, out of the 13 quarterbacks drafted into the NFL earlier this year, 10 of them are former MPA counselors. The Manning Passing Academy experience bodes well for the futures of every college quarterback counselor, if history is any indication. Half of today’s NFL starters are MPA alums.

The Manning Passing Academy and its partnership with Thibodaux Regional Medical Center is truly adding up to be a winning game plan for all involved.