SUPER MARIO: 87ERS HEAD ATHLETIC TRAINER PUTS IN WORK WITH THE ORGANIZATION OF HIS DREAMS
By Varun Raghupathi
Imagine this scenario: your father was born and raised in West Philadelphia and you grew up not far away in Delaware County. You played three sports as a kid and it inspired you to want to work in sports. You went to college, then grad school, all with this goal in mind. Oh, and your entire life, you’ve been a die-hard Sixers fan.
Now imagine what it must be like to meet employees of the 76ers while in grad school and have them help you get a gig with the organization you grew up loving.
That’s how it went for Delaware 87ers Head Athletic Trainer Mario Mascioli.
“When I first got to the Sixers, I was a little bit starstruck just being there,” said Mascioli. “Then you get over it, like ‘alright, these are normal people’, but it was just super exciting when I did get an opportunity with the Sixers.”
Funny enough, that connection almost didn’t occur. Mascioli knew he wanted to work in sports by the time high school was winding down and continuing his education in grad school was always in the cards, but the trainer was looking all over the country before deciding to stay near home.
“I was really keen on going to a D1 college where there were some really big-time sports programs. UNC, Pittsburgh, something like that,” said Mascioli. “I ended up deciding to take the year to work first before I went to grad school and that led me to St. Joseph’s University. When I was there, I met Sixers staff and that was the first door I had open for me that would get me into professional sports.”
Mascioli, a huge Allen Iverson fan as a kid, had spent three years working his tail off with the Sixers when the Head Athletic Trainer post with the Delaware 87ers opened up. No one else was better suited for the job.
“I kind of just slipped into that position,” said Mascioli. “It was just a good, natural progression.”
As anyone who grinds in the G League will tell you, hard work and long hours are a way of life. That applies to Mascioli as much as anyone out there. I asked Mario to give me a list of the various tasks he’s had to knock out, both with the Sixers and the Sevens. Here’s a (most certainly incomplete) list:
– Laundry (lots and lots of laundry)
-Cleaning and stocking refrigerators
-Set up and break down before and after home games
-Running errands for athletes
“First off, you do question sometimes ‘why am I doing these things?’, which is good because I think it really gets to the heart of what you want to do or where you want to be in the future,” said Masicoli. “I think a lot of times when I do that grunt work, there’s times where I think ‘yeah, this is just the natural progression, what I need to do if I ultimately want to begin a higher-role position or be in the NBA’.
“There’s times where the grunt work is not fun,” Mascioli admits. “Sometimes you complain about it, but it’s still good to just do and to try to do that to the best of your ability.”
The obvious next step for Mascioli would be to continue on to an NBA team, be it the Sixers or anyone else.
“I think a goal for me is to grow in this organization,” said Mascioli. “I love the Philadelphia organization. My main goal would be to try to stay and then potentially move up with the Sixers in the future. I’d definitely be open to other NBA positions. That’s the ultimate goal [to get to the NBA].”
Still, like any true Sixers fan, Mascioli always makes sure to have as long a view as possible when it comes to his career. Enter Mario’s brother, Nick, who works in strength and conditioning with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
“We both endeavor to have our own business one day,” said Mascioli. “A training and sports medicine facility where we can use all our experiences together from the past however many years and help people do what they want to do.”
While Mascioli concedes that his career path could change at any point, one thing is for sure: when Super Mario moves on, the 87ers will sorely miss his presence.