Homecoming conflict? HHS athletic training alumnus worked for both Purdue, Florida Atlantic football

Devin Wyss and his fellow trainers help an injured player off the field.

While Devin Wyss, far right, started his athletic training work with Purdue University football, his most recent stint on the gridiron was with Florida Atlantic University, which happens to be Purdue’s Homecoming opponent Sept. 24.Photo provided

Written by: Tim Brouk, tbrouk@purdue.edu

When it comes to Purdue University football rivalries, there’s Indiana University, Ohio State University and, back in the day, the University of Notre Dame.

For Sept. 24’s big 2022 Homecoming football game, the Boilermakers will strap on their helmets to face the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls. Who? Who, indeed.

While most fans had to Google where FAU is in the Sunshine State, one Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences alumnus knows both programs intimately.

Devin Wyss earned an athletic training degree from the Department of Health and Kinesiology (HK) in 2014. During his studies, he received hands-on experience as a student athletic trainer for Purdue football. Working with student-athletes to ensure their health and high-level performance was a passion for Wyss, which carried over to his graduate studies at FAU. As a graduate assistant athletic trainer, Wyss worked primarily with FAU’s football team, which started in 2001. Purdue’s first time on the gridiron was 1887.

“It’s a dream come true for me to see these teams matchup. The best part is I can’t really lose,” Wyss laughed. “I never thought my alma mater and where I did my graduate assistantship would be playing. When they announced this, I was like ‘You gotta be kidding me. This is incredible.’”

After several years of working with NCAA schools’ athletic programs, Wyss is now a physician extender for Community Health Network Sports Medicine and Orthopedics in Indianapolis, who treats overuse and acute injuries, fractures, and other maladies. One of the clinic’s clients is University of Indianapolis Athletics, where Wyss worked as an associate athletic trainer for almost four years.

Devin Wyss stands in front of some signage at his job for Community Health Network.

Wyss now works as a physician extender for Community Health Network Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.Photo provided

“I’m really the intermediary between the physician and the patients,” he said. “The best way I could describe our clinic to the general population is nonsurgical orthopedics.”

An athlete taking care of athletes

Wyss played high school football for the Bishop Luers in Fort Wayne and won two state championships in 2007 and 2009. Upon his arrival to West Lafayette, he found a career path that would allow him to follow his passion for the sports-team environment while earning a degree. At the time, the Purdue athletic training program required first-year students to observe and apply to the program as pre-athletic training students before diving in to the program during the students’ sophomore years. The program is now an entry-level master’s degree program.

Wyss was assigned to Purdue football. The experience was formative.

“You just kind of go along from one experience to the next,” he explained. “I just pride myself in being a doer, just step in and say ‘Hey, I’ll do the job. This is an incredible opportunity. I just want to learn and grow and continue to develop my toolbox and skillset.’”

Looking back, Wyss is thankful to have gotten in with Purdue football, which has earned the name Cradle of Quarterbacks and has yielded almost 300 players drafted by the NFL since 1936.

“The pride that goes working with the team — I’ve always been a firm believer in teamwork and being a part of something bigger than yourself. The operation that goes into a (NCAA) Division I football team, it’s more than meets the eye to the average fan. Once you get on the inside of that, you’re part of the operation,” he said. “Holy smokes, everybody is important, from the top-down — head football coach all the way down to the student athletic trainers and managers. Everybody’s got a role to make sure that train stays on the tracks there. Being able to contribute to that big operation was just an awesome experience.”

Football foundation

Wyss worked every home game for the Boilermakers in 2011 and 2012. As a senior, he was assigned to the team and worked exclusively with the team in fall 2013 and spring 2014. Wyss said an athletic trainer can experience almost everything the career has to offer in just one season of hard-hitting, elite football.

“I’m a firm believer that if you’ve worked football, you can work almost any sport,” he continued. “You’re going to get your contact injuries; you’re going to get your equipment intensive injuries; you’re going to get your overuse injuries. Football kind of just gives you a flavor of everything.”

One of the most high-octane sports on the planet, Wyss realized the importance of football athletic trainers quickly. He even experienced the highest level of the sport when he interned for the reigning Super Bowl champion, the Baltimore Ravens, during the NFL team’s 2013 preseason and summer training camp.

“Once you get into the professional level, those athletic trainers there eat, sleep and live football and sports medicine. They were the first in and last out of the facility,” Wyss remembered. “It was just super eye-opening, being in that position as a student intern in the summer, just trying to be a sponge and soak it all up, hopefully pick up a few tips and tricks to put in my toolbox and take back to Purdue to help our team.”

The early Purdue football experience gave him confidence to work with a wide array of other NCAA sports — track and field, lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, softball, tennis, and swimming and diving.

Wyss attends to a swimmer for University of Indianapolis.

Wyss, left, attends to an University of Indianapolis swimmer.Photo provided

Well-traveled trainer

During his Purdue career and beyond, Wyss logged thousands of miles for opportunities. One was a 2012 HK study abroad program in China where he studied Chinese medicine and the then-obscure therapy of cupping. The process involves glass, silicone or plastic cups that create a vacuum under the athlete’s skin. The process leaves large, circular bruises on the body but results in pain-free performance for the athlete. Swimming icon Michael Phelps was an early American adopter of the process, putting cupping in the mainstream during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“That was really cool to see that connection from the study abroad to the Olympics. Now, it’s a common practice in the forefront of sports medicine,” Wyss said. “You’re pooling the blood. You’re trying to separate the skin away from a layer of the fascia in hopes that you’re going to help increase that good blood flow to the area, break up any scar tissue, and hopefully promote some healing and development at the site.”

Not the most bitter of rivals

While Wyss did intern for Ohio State University’s women’s field hockey team in 2016-17, Wyss doesn’t expect any grief from Boilermaker fans for having an FAU graduate degree, as the football teams have never met. However, Wyss, “a Purdue guy through and through,” will be pulling for the black and gold come Sept. 24.

Still a certified and licensed athletic trainer, Wyss expects to be in attendance for the big game, just a short walk from where he observed his first athletic training demonstrations. An ever-changing but always important field, Wyss assures Purdue athletic training undergraduates that they are in good hands in the program, which will teach them to be good hands for athletes across the nation.

“All of that hands-on experience really prepared me for my career, set me up for success and allowed me to get where I am today,” he said. “Leave your mark and relish in your time there because it is such a great, unique experience and an amazing place to get an athletic training education.”