By day, Scott Lunato is head nurse of the recovery room at Martin Army Community Hospital, but by night, he is a volunteer trainer for the Columbus Lions of the Southern Indoor Football League.
As a trainer, Lunato makes doctor appointments for players, tapes ankles and helps injured players during games. The 41-year-old said football is his favorite sport and being a trainer doesn’t feel like work.
“This is a perfect combination of two things I love — medicine and sports,” he said.
“It’s fun to be on the field during the game. When this place (Columbus Civic Center) gets rocking, it’s a real adrenaline rush and it pumps up the players. It’s awesome to hear the roar of the crowd — there’s nothing like it.”
The Soldier, from Huron, Ohio, has served in the Army for 24 years and has been at Fort Benning four years. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Texas and completed LPN school in the Army. He has worked labor and delivery, as a medic and in the operating room at several Army and naval medical centers.
Lunato was chosen for the position after he helped an injured player at a Lions’ tryout in Atlanta.
“A guy went up for a pass, came down and dislocated his ankle,” Lunato said. “I took care of him and then Jason (Gibson, Lions head coach) asked if I wanted to be the Lions’ trainer.”
Gibson said he remembers the tryouts and how Lunato responded to the injured player.
“It was a scary situation, but Scott stayed calm,” Gibson said. “I thought to myself, ‘He knows what he’s doing.’”
Gibson said Lunato is dedicated, works hard and is good at what he does.
Aside from a few broken bones, the season has run smoothly with minimal injuries, Lunato said.
“Arena football is much more dangerous than (conventional football) because players have a wall to deal with,” Lunato said. “I have seen players go over the wall and into the crowd.”
The Lions games are a family affair for the Lunatos. His 12-year-old son, Nicolas, is a ball boy for the Lions and his 16-year-old daughter, Dominique, attends every game.Lunato has been to every game this season except one. He devotes 16-20 hours weekly to practices and games.
“It’s a big-time commitment, but it’s worth it,” he said. “I knew in training camp that we had a really, really good team. These guys play well together and there is a lot of talent on our team.”
The Lions finished the regular season at 8-3 and defeated the Lafayette Wildcatters of Louisiana 61-26 in the conference semifinals July 8 at the Columbus Civic Center.The Lions played the Wildcatters twice during the regular season and came out on top both times.
“It’s hard to beat any team three times in a row,” Lunato said before the game. “The last game (against the Wildcatters) was a really tough one. I had a headache after it because it was such a close game. All four teams in the playoffs are evenly matched, but our coaching staff and team is the best — hands down. I know we can win this game and the championship.”
With the win over the Wildcatters, the Lions earned a spot in the championship game.
“I thought we played really well and the defense saved us,” Lunato said. “The win hasn’t completely sunk in yet because we still have one more game to go.”
The Lions will take on the Louisiana Swashbucklers for the league championship at 6 p.m. July 18 at the Columbus Civic Center.