Former Towson men’s lacrosse attackman Tyler Konen had 21 goals and 29 assists from 2014-2017, winning the CAA tournament three times and earning a trip to the Final Four in 2017. He’s now studying at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, W.V., and he’ll soon be starting his clinical rotations at Frederick Health Hospital in Frederick, Md.
Konen spoke to Glenn Clark Radio May 1 about his path from lacrosse to the medical field, how he’ll be helping in the coronavirus fight and more. This has been edited for clarity and content.
PressBox: What made the medical path and this field – even before we got to this time in our history – something that was interesting for you and the direction you wanted to go in?
Tyler Konen: I was pretty active when I was little, in and out of the ER, breaking bones and everything, so I just kind of got used to it. I really admired the doctors who took care of me, and I figured that’s kind of what I wanted to do as I grew up.
PB: Was there a moment when you knew it was always going to be that way for you. I’m going to play lacrosse, and then after that this is the direction for me?
TK: When I was younger, I was really thinking about it. Then when I got to Towson, I was really unsure of myself, wasn’t really sure if it was going to be the right path for me if I could do it. Then after freshman year I was like, ‘You know what, I think I’m going to send it on this thing and really push for it.’ So now I’m here.
PB: What exactly are you going to be doing in the medical field?
TK: I’m not really quite sure right now. That’s kind of what my rotations are designed for. I’m kind of leaning toward sports medicine, but osteopathic medicine is kind of like an adjunct to regular medicine where besides prescribing medications for people you can also kind of do more of a hands-on musculoskeletal manipulation. It’s kind of the best of both worlds there.
PB: Is there any specific reason why that was the path for you?
TK: Well, I figured I’m kind of gearing toward sports medicine, I figured that’d be the right path to go down.
PB: You get into this field, you start going to medical school and then all of a sudden you start hearing about coronavirus, start hearing about COVID-19 and this thing that exists in the other part of the world. What starts running through your mind about the direction that you’re headed in? Is this what you signed up for? Is this why you wanted to get into medicine — for these moments when things are going crazy? Or did you start feeling an amount of nervousness about this whole thing?
TK: When you kind of start picturing yourself in the medical field, you think of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “House,” with all these crazy situations. This is like exactly what this COVID is. It’s kind of a crazy situation no one’s ever dealt with, and you kind of get excited for it. And then you start looking into it and you’re like, “Wow, this is a lot. This is not even close to what I was expecting.” It’s kind of funny because last year in one of my lectures, we talked about coronaviruses and they just kind of breezed over them. They’re just like, “Oh, it’s an upper respiratory infection. It’s really not that big of a deal. It hasn’t been seen in a while.” And then we get here and I’m just like, “Coronavirus, are you kidding me? This is what’s causing all this?” It’s definitely interesting and kind of fascinating how we don’t really know much about this specific strand and then how we’re adapting to it as we go along.
PB: Can you compare the thrill of working in medicine to, for example, the thrill of playing in an NCAA Tournament lacrosse game? You guys played in big games and made deep runs during your career at Towson just a few years ago. Can you compare sort of the exhilaration that comes with being in this field to that?
TK: I guess being on the big stage, playing in front of people or treating a patient, you get that rush going, that kind of adrenaline rush. How am I going to do this? How am I going to handle the situation that I’m in? What it comes down to is … any sport and medicine kind of relate just the reps. You practice, and when the time comes you don’t even have to think. You’re just doing it. You just know how to handle the situation. So I think being a Towson lacrosse player actually really prepared me for my future in the medical field.
PB: If you end up getting into your rotations – and everything is up in the air – what’s that going to look like for you, working in a hospital this summer? And will you be around this fight against the coronavirus?
TK: I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to look like, but I’m sure that I’m going to be dealing with some of the coronavirus cases. I really can’t give you a good picture of what that’s going to look like because I don’t think anyone really knows what the future’s holding right now with this thing.
PB: What have you learned about it? A lot of people are sharing opinions about this thing. There are a lot of wildly unqualified people who have no idea what they’re talking about that are using the media or social media to try to share their own opinions. What do you think we need to know about what’s going on in the world right now?
TK: I think listening to what Dr. [Anthony] Fauci has to say, he’s spot on with everything. Obviously people are sharing things, but I don’t think it’s to be malicious or anything. They’re just trying to help out, but sometimes they’re just misinformed. You’ve got to be careful with what you see on social media and everything, but coming from the direct source of the government – Dr. Fauci – I think that’s the best place to start.
PB: Do you feel like social distancing is still important for us to beat this thing?
TK: Oh, without a doubt. This thing can spread so fast, and you don’t know if you have it or not in some cases. Just like that, you can have another peak. I know it’s very tough to do, this social distancing thing, but I think it’s absolutely necessary.
PB: What’s your favorite moment from being a Towson lacrosse player?
TK: Camaraderie with the teammates. I just loved getting out there every day with those guys, doing anything for them.
PB: Is there one game that stands out the most to you?
TK: I’d say it have to be our senior year, the stretch of our tournament run there. We started out with Penn State. That was a great game, a battle. And then we headed to Syracuse, beat them in Delaware. That was huge, a lot of people around. And then honestly playing at Gillette Stadium was just a memory for a lifetime there.
PB: There were some rumors that Shawn Nadelen was going to head to his alma mater of Johns Hopkins. As somebody who cares about Towson lacrosse and knows how good of a coach he is, how happy are you that we now know safely that he’s going to be sticking around for a few years?
TK: I’m pumped. Coach Nads, he turned it around. We were his first recruiting class, so I owe it him for playing college lacrosse. I’m very happy he’s staying at Towson. Can’t wait to watch more games with him at the helm.
For more from Konen, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Rob Maloof/Towson Athletics