Clinical Staff & Graduate Assistants

Clinical Staff

  • Sarah Sydor

    Assistant Athletic Trainer

    Athletic trainer Sarah Sydor joined the Youngstown State staff in September of 2012. Sydor began handling athletic training duties for the women’s basketball and men’s tennis programs in 2016-17.

    Prior to her current sports, Sydor was the trainer for the soccer and baseball programs. In 2014, the YSU baseball program won its second Horizon League Championship in school history and earned its first ever win in the NCAA regionals.

    Sydor game to Youngstown State with almost 15 years of athletic training, teaching and administrative experience.

    Before joining the YSU staff, she spent nearly five years as an assistant athletic trainer at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. While working in the athletic department, she also was a staff athletic trainer at Decauter Memorial Hospital.

    At Millikin she worked with the volleyball and softball programs. Both programs won conference championships during her tenure.

    She was an assistant athletic trainer for three years at Tennessee Tech, served as an assistant at Cumberland University for a year and previously worked at the Dayton Sports Medicine Institute. During her time at Cumberland, the bulldogs won the NAIA National championship in 2004 and were a two-time conference champion.

    Sydor graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in physical education in 2000. She earned her Master’s in Health Promotion from Virginia Tech in 2001.

  • Jeff Wills

    Assistant Athletic Trainer

    Jeff Wills, a 1998 Youngstown State graduate, is entering his ninth year in 2016-17 as an Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Penguins.

    Wills spent his first eight season at YSU as the athletic trainer for the women’s basketball and the tennis programs. He is in his first season as the athletic trainer for the soccer and bowling teams in 2016-17.

    Prior to returning to his alma mater, Wills worked as an athletic trainer on the scholastic level from 1999-2008. He spent four years as an athletic trainer for Hubbard Exempted Village public schools, and he was also an athletic trainer for Salem City Schools and Warren City Schools.

    Wills has an extensive athletic training background. Prior to joining the YSU staff, he spent two years at Action Physical Therapy in Hubbard. He worked for two years in the Sharon Reginal Health System while also working as a fitness and health instructor on the high school level.

    Wills is certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and Ohio OP/PT/AT License and is American Heart Association CPR and AED Certifies.

    While attending YSU as a student trainer, he was two-time recipient of the Willard Webster Outstanding Student Trainer Award. He also helped the Ohio Department of Education develop ITAC for Fitness/sports medicine careers.

    Jeff and his wife, Lita, reside in Warren.

  • Jennifer Lesko

    Assistant Athletic Trainer

    Jennifer Lesko has been an Assistant Athletic Trainer at Youngstown State since December of 1998. Jennifer spent more than 10 years working with the Penguins’ softball team and women’s soccer team before moving into her current role as an assistant with football and the primary contact for women’s golf.

    Jennifer is the athletic training coordinator for summer youth camps. She also certifies all athletic department coaches in American Red Cross Adult and Pediatric CPR/AED and First Aid.

    Certified by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Ohio Athletic Trainers Association, Lesko is also an American Red Cross instructor and earned a bachelor’s degree in education specializing in athletic training from the University of Akron in 1993. She also earned a master’s degree in health and human services from Youngstown State in 2002.

    Jennifer and her husband, John, reside in Salem with their son, Zander, and daughter, Muirin.

  • Todd Burkey

    Assistant Athletic Trainer

  • Julia Slepko

    Assistant Athletic Trainer

    Julia joined the YSU Athletic Training staff in January of 2017 and will be working primarily with the Men’s/Women’s cross country and Men’s/Women’s Track & Field teams.

    Before joining the YSU Athletic Training staff, Julia served as the Head Athletic Trainer for the Mercyhurst North East Saints in North East. PA. During her time at MNE, Julia worked with all 9 NJCAA athletic teams including the national qualifying Saints Wrestling and Saints softball teams. She also provided medical coverage for numerous seasonal sports/camps/tournaments for the Ragin’ Raisins Wrestling Club, Family First Sports Park and local colleges in the NWPA area.

    Previous to being hired directly by Mercyhurst North East, Julia was employed by UPMC/Hamot Sports Medicine in Erie, PA. As an employee of UPMC/Hamot she participated in providing medical coverage for many community outreach events such as the Mayor’s Cup 5k and 10k races, Save an Eye football practices and All Star game and also provided medical care at local high school events in conjunction with her primary duties at Mercyhurst North East.

    As a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Mercyhurst university from 2004-2006, Julia earned a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership while working with many of the Laker athletic teams. Her primary responsibilities were NCAA Division II women’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball, field hockey, and NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. Additionally, Julia spent summers assisting medical coverage for local sports camps, including a season covering home games for the Erie Illusion professional women’s football team.

    Julia graduated from Mercyhurst University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Medicine-Concentration in Athletic Training. She is a native Northeast Ohioan and is an alumna of Berkshire JR./Sr. High School in Burton, OH.


Graduate Assistants

Jason Combs

Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer — Baseball
Alma Mater: Otterbein University
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Peronal Interests: Watching football and baseball
Research Interest: Upper extremity

Dana Matz

Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer — Football
Alma Mater: Florida State University
Hometown: Boardman, Ohio
Personal Interests: Baking, golfing, working out
Research Interest: Concussions or psychosocial aspects of athletic training

Megan Fox

Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer — Softball
Alma Mater: University of Cincinnati
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Personal Interests: Reading, hiking, traveling
Research Interest: Rehab, self-myofascial release techniques

Stephanie Golec

Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer — Women's Volleyball
Alma Mater: Kent State University
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio
Personal Interests: Shopping and playing with her dog
Research Interest: ACL's

The four graduate assistants are all first-year certified athletic trainers pursuing a Master's degree in Health and Human Services.