A native of San Jose, California, Gianluca Scotuzzi begins his second season as the grad assistant athletic trainer for the San Jose Barracuda and San Jose Sharks. SJBarracuda.com sat down with Scotuzzi recently to ask him a few questions as a part of the offseason staff spotlight series.
How long have you been working for the organization and how did you get to this point?
About four years ago I met Mike Potenza, he’s the Sharks strength coach. I was still doing my own thing at the time since I was still in school earning my undergrad, but I told him I wanted to understand his role because it’s crucial for strength coaches and athletic trainers to get along. I wanted to understand his department and his staff’s tasks and duties. After a year of shadowing, he asked me to help him in the gym, and from there I landed a graduate assistant position with the Sharks and Barracuda. This upcoming season will be my second with the Barracuda.
Before the Sharks you worked for the Oakland Raiders as a helping hand during training camp, what was the most significant difference between the NHL and NFL?
Working for the Raiders was a great experience, and I learned a lot about professional sports. The biggest difference between the two sports was how much more close-knit hockey teams are. Not that football teams aren’t close-knit, but there are more players on a football team, and the offense and defense are almost always separated from each other. It’s just different in football, but both have been tremendous teaching tools for me and my growth as an athletic trainer.
Did you always envision yourself working in sports?
Definitely! I’ve always been a big sports guy, so I don’t see myself anywhere else. I can’t see myself behind a commuter or in a clinic yet so definitely sports, I’ve always wanted to be there, and I think I’ve got a lot more to go.
Growing up in San Jose, where the Sharks always the team you dreamed of working for?
That was the dream as a kid, being from the area, I always wanted to work for that pro team. If you put your mind to it, anyone can accomplish their dreams.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
Just seeing how everyone can overcome the down points of the season and how players can get back up after failures. A season in pro sports will always have that rollercoaster ride affect. There will be ups and downs but if you stick together you can get through the lows, and for me to be a small part of lifting them back up to where they want and need to be, that’s the most rewarding part.
What’s your best memory growing up as a Sharks fan?
It has to be any of the playoff games. Growing up as a Sharks fan I’ll always remember how loud the Tank would get and to this day it’s nothing less than what I remember it.
You're around the players all the time, describe those relationships?
They’re just regular guys, yes they get paid more than most for what they do, but they’re normal. They’re funny, always want to mess around, but you can see the times they’re serious and ready. There’s a lot of personality in the locker room. We’re just here to support them and get them to where they want to be. It’s fun to be able to have a little assist in their successes, and they appreciate our work too. They trust us and the process, and that makes for a great work environment.
You’re a graduate assistant at San Jose State right now, what would be your end goal in the field of athletic training?
I love soccer, it was the sport I grew up playing and know the most about, so I could see myself working soccer. I love the hockey culture so I wouldn’t mind staying here but I’m open for whatever opportunities come my way.