A UNIQUE TEAM PHYSICIANS ASSISTANT: Lancers Wall of Famer Manscuk knows the mindset, psychology of soccer players

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- As the Rochester Lancers' team physician's assistant, Kyle Manscuk likely has an advantage over men and women in his profession who work with sports teams.

That's because he once played for the Lancers indoor team and the Rochester Rhinos outdoors. So, there is a good chance he understands a player's physiology and mentally better than most physicians assistants.

There's certainly no substitute for experience.

"It's unique that I know what a lot of the players are going through with knacks, and bumps and bruises and all that," he said. "It's great to share my experiences as well as my medical knowledge with them. Other providers and physicians may not have played the game at a high level. So, they're not in-tune with the mindsets and stresses and the emotional side of it.

 I've been there, done that. So, it's a good platform to share with them. I'm hoping to continue to do that and do whatever I now that I am not able to play."

The Rochester native will be honored with 19 other individuals as the first class to be inducted into the Lances indoor Wall of Fame during halftime ceremonies of Friday's 7 p.m. game vs. the Baltimore Blast at the Dome Arena in Henrietta, N.Y.

"It's a great honor," Manscuk said. "Being in the company of a lot of other great players and also staff members since the inception in 2011, it's great seeing a lot of other amazing people honored. And, I have the unique distinction of being a player and now a staff member. So, that's very humbling as well that they've kept me on throughout everything. Just a great organization. Can't say enough about Sam [Fantauzzo], the rest of the staff, members and players. It's great to have them back and move up to division one now."

That would be the Major Arena Soccer League after playing a season in MASL2 -- aka M2 -- in 2018-19.

Manscuk said he discovered the good news via a text from Fantauzzo.

It said: "Make sure you're there [that] weekend."

"I was yeah, obviously, I'm going to be there. I'm working the game," Manscuk said. "He sent me the article. So, I was pretty shocked. I was not expecting it by any means, when you see a lot of the names up there. It's a great honor to be with them. Just the fact being recognized by my hometown team. It was the first the team I've ever played for. It'll be the last team I play for, because of injuries. So hopefully, it will be the last team I work for as well."

Along with his older brother Keith, Manscuk played soccer at Aquinas Institute, winning multiple state championships. After he graduated from Binghamton University in 2011, the Lancers were born. He tried out for the them and then the Rhinos. He made both squads.

"Not many players have the opportunity to play both indoors and outdoors, but I was one of the lucky ones, in the same city, two teams," he said. "So, I was able to do that for a couple of years until injuries got the better of me. It was pretty cool seeing fans year around and players year-round, both indoors and outdoors. Having that unique experience is something that I will be forever grateful for."

And remember, while a soccer ball is used in both sports, indoors and outdoors are as different as night and day. Indoors is lightning fast with multiple line changes, whereas outdoors is more much deliberate as each team gets only three substitutions.

"It was two different mindsets," Manscuk said. "You were in a completely different mindset indoors and then you switch to outdoors and you have to train your body a little bit differently. You're not on shifts, going for 30 to 45 seconds. Outdoor you're on the field all the time. Also, it's tough on the body for sure when you're playing on turf pretty much year around because the Rhinos were turf and as is indoors. But it was great seeing the same fans. That's probably one of the best things, the same friends and family at the games, being able to connect with both players, staff members and fans was pretty special. You build a special bond with a lot of the fans and they're able to see you year-round."

Manscuk's soccer career, however, did not last as long as he wanted. He wound up having four knee operations "unfortunately, with the joints," he said. Aquinas, Binghamton, the Rhinos and the Lancers had turf surfaces. He played two seasons with the Lancers and Rhinos.

"The turf really put stress on the joints," he said. "I just figured it wasn't really worth sacrificing being able to function daily later in life. So, there's a time where every athlete, whether it's football, whether it's soccer, you reach a point where you did what you wanted to do and you've got to move on and do other things in life."

For Manscuk, that would be becoming a physician's assistant.

He talked to Lancers trainer David DiPasquale and doctors. Manscuk had gotten a good start as attended Binghamton University with expectations of attending medical school.

"So, I had all those classes that I had got done and I really wasn't loving the fact that I would have to go back to medical school for another six to eight years," he said. "So, the logical step would be the physician’s assistant route, which was only about two and half to three years. I could practice medicine and do a lot of the same things. I started applying my last year when I was hurt and eventually it worked out where I only had to transition less than a year until I got accepted."

Three years later, he graduated and was ready for the next stage of his life.

He returned to the Lancers this season as a physician's assistant. Basically, he functions as a team physician would.

"So, any serious injuries, I'm helping with the trainer, whether its stitches, whether it's a player transported to a local hospital, whether its making sort of communications with series injuries, broken bones, everything like that, making sure everything is going smoothly, overseeing all the medical staff that we have at games. It's responsibility, but it's also something that I love doing, making sure players are safe out there, but enjoying being around the game again."

Despite his short soccer career, the 30-year-old Manscuk did have some memorable moments, indoor and out.

With the Lancers, it was when the team honored the West Webster Fire Department and those affected by the 2012 Christmas Eve shootings on First Responder Appreciation Day at the Blue Cross Arena on Jan. 27, 2013. The team wore commemorative black jerseys that were auctioned off after the game. Wounded West Webster firefighter Joseph Hofstetter was named honorary captain.

"We had 10,000-plus fans there and just seeing the impact, just being able to play for such a good cause and seeing how we did our little part of help out and giving them back as much as they give us," Manscuk said. "It was great having all the fans there and the support. It was just a special moment, packing the Blue Cross Arena just doing our best for the city of Rochester. We felt we were unified at that moment."

For the Rhinos, it was something that happened after his first season in 2012. Manscuk was named team rookie of the year.

"That was pretty special, even though I didn't get as much time as I would have loved," he said. "We did really well and probably for all intents and purposes probably should have won [the league title] that year. We lost on PKs to Charleston, but I got rookie of the year that year and was really grateful for that and how well we did and how much I was able to support and give the team."

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