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CHARLESTON — Since it opened its doors, the Marshall Sports Medicine Institute has wanted to grow, to extend its reach in the region.

This weekend offers the institute an opportunity to stretch its wings even wider.

The institute is busy at two sites, overseeing sports medicine issues at the U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Presidents Cup at two sites — the Shawnee Sports Complex and the Barboursville Soccer Complex. It is the largest event the Sports Medicine Insitute has worked with and the first time it has handled an event split at two sites sitting about 40 miles apart.

Sports medicine-trained physicians and certified trainers will be available for 18 fields of competition, six at Shawnee and 12 more in Barboursville. Tom Belmaggio, the director of sports medicine at Marshall University, said the institute looks at the opportunity to serve the tourament in a couple of different ways.

"We look at it as providing a community service," he said. "Getting out into the Teays Valley area is something we're really interested in. We're close to that office. We want to expand our coverage in the region, that was important to us.

"But it's also exciting to be asked to do that," he added. "They asked, and we stepped up and graciously accepted."

The institute has served soccer tournaments in the Huntington area in the past, but this year, it stepped into a new realm of the 127-acre, $18 million Shawnee complex. The doctors and trainers on hand have plenty of experience working in the sport of soccer, but doing so at Shawnee presents new wrinkles to iron out. That's why Belmaggio was at the complex at 6 a.m. Friday before the tournament began, scouting the site and checking out any potential issues that might pop up.

The Sports Medicine Institute wasn't walking into the new task blind. The institute already had held meetings with U.S. Youth Soccer and Shawnee officials to figure out what would be provided in terms of communication and transportation. Still, a new site offers new challenges. Foremost is the challenge of splitting the institute's manpower between two sites a significant distance away from each other.

"It's difficult because you divide your work staff," said Dr. Andy Gilliland, who oversees primary care sports medicine at the institute. "When you divide your work staff, you have to communicate expeditiously. You also have to make sure the same standards of care are being applied at both places. This is such a beautiful facility, but we still don't know what the growing pains are. That's why it was important for Tom to come down and look at logistical issues."

And some things did pop up, like how to get X-rays for players at the Shawnee site. When the institute handles soccer tournaments around Huntington, sending a player to get X-rays is as simple as a phone call. But at Shawnee, doctors can send players to the Marshall Orthopaedics office in Teays Valley.

Overall, the Sports Medicine Institute has the experience to make sure a set of protocols are in place, whether it is serving a new site or an established one. Those protocols have been well-received, Gilliland said, and the institute wants to bring that level of care to a wider area."That's what Tom and I worked on building with a lot of other people for the past three to five years," Gilliland said, "and it's really validating to do it."

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