VISUALIZE SUCCESS

March 14, 2001 12:00 am

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

Mark Smaha can visualize his goals. He writes them down on 3x5 index cards, reads them before he goes to bed at night and reads them when he gets up in the morning.

His most prominent goal right now is to be a sideline football analyst for a television network. Thats not too lofty considering Smahas experience and status as probably the only athletic trainer in the country who has an agent.

My goal in all this is to educate the public, Smaha said, to give some glorification and awareness to what an athletic trainer does.

Smaha, a former Washington State University head trainer, spoke about goal-setting and coaching and teaching philosophies at Saturdays Eastern Oregon Sports Medicine Symposium at Quinn Coliseum.

A good friend of Easterns athletic training education director, Ken Kladnik, Smaha and his wife Jackie shared some of their experiences and knowledge at Kladniks one-day conference. Kladnik replaced Smaha as the head trainer at the University of Idaho in 1978, when Smaha went to spend 21 years at Washington State.

That experience, plus some time spent at the Pacific Institute in Seattle developing his professional speaking skills, has led Smaha to believe he can work the sidelines at college or professional football games, evaluating injuries for television audiences.

That and the nagging fact that a lot of television announcers get it wrong.

Take an injury to Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson a couple of years ago. When Anderson fell down without getting hit and bent his knee the wrong way, Smaha and every other athletic trainer in the country knew what had happened: he had blown out his knee.

But Anderson got up and walked off, and when X-rays were negative, the TV sideline reporter told the audience that he was all right.

He wasnt. Smaha said many athletes are able to walk off the field after tearing their anterior cruciate ligament, and an X-ray would not show that. What he would have told the audience is that he was worried about the ACL tear and that Anderson would need an MRI the next day.

Smahas experience at Washington State gave him the background. He worked with future NFL quarterbacks Mark Rypien, Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf, and served as president of the National Athletic Trainers Association from 1988 to 1992. He was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

Another proposal is to do a pre-taped segment focusing on an injury each week and what is done to prevent and treat it. Smahas goal is to consumerize the injury. For example, on an injury to John Elways throwing shoulder, Smaha would show the mechanics of the arm and shoulder and show them why its so important to focus more on the back.

So far, Smaha has interviewed with CBS and has interviews upcoming with NBC and Fox. The networks like his idea, he said, but getting into show biz is also about timing. NBC is trying to deal with its XFL problems Smaha has declined an offer to work those games and Fox is scrambling to adapt its NASCAR coverage to a season without Dale Earnhardt.

But Smaha still reads his cards every night. He reads them in the present tense, as if he has already completed the task.

It hasnt happened yet, but I believe it will. I visualize it happening.