Los Angeles Lakers

Head Athletic Trainer

Gary Vitti
College: Southern Connecticut State College (B.S.)
University of Utah (M.S.)
Years in NBATA: 29
Since taking the Lakers’ head athletic trainer post in 1984, Gary Vitti has had the rare opportunity to help guide teams to ten NBA Western Conference crowns and seven NBA World Championships.

Prior to coming to the Lakers, Vitti served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Portland from 1982-84 and assistant athletic trainer for the Utah Jazz during the 1981-82 season. He also spent two years as a professor and athletic trainer and at the University of Utah, where he received a master’s degree in sports medicine.

The Stamford, Conn., native was honored to receive the “NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year” award in 1991 and was selected to serve as Western Conference athletic trainer at the 1997 and 2004  NBA All-Star Games.

Off the court, Vitti annually teams up with fellow athletic trainers to gather sports-related items that are auctioned off to raise funds for worthy charities including The Miami Project, the National Kidney Foundation and MOTRAIN, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. In 2004, he organized a wine tasting event that raised more than $32,000 for “A Window Between the Worlds,” a nonprofit organization that uses art as a form of therapy for victims of domestic abuse.

He has authored monthly columns for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate’s Health and Physical Education News Service and “Sports Medicine Digest.” In 1992, he produced a conditioning video called “Training For Excellence.”

Vitti, who earned the distinction of “Who’s Who in America” in 1993, is a frequent lecturer on fitness and sports medicine. He’s traveled to the Philippines and Italy to share his expertise with physicians, coaches and athletic trainers. For the past nine years, he’s coordinated an annual blood drive at the annual National Athletic Trainers’ Association Clinical Symposia. Recently he received his certification as a Performance Enhancemnt Secialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist from the National Academy in Sport Medicine. (NASM) In the Fall of 2007 he will be a guest speaker at the Far West Meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

An avid Harley Davidson rider, Vitti dabbles in oil painting on canvas. He also enjoys spending part of the offseason at his 400-year-old house in Settefratti, Italy, a remote mountain village 60 miles southeast of Rome. Gary spends the majority of the year in Manhattan Beach, Calif., with his wife Marta and daughters, Rachel and Emilia.

Assistant Athletic Trainer
Marco Nuñez
College: Cal Poly - Pomona (B.S.)
Years in NBATA: 5
Marco Nuñez joins the Lakers for his second season as Assistant Athletic Trainer after spending the previous two seasons as Athletic Trainer for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Development League. Chief among his responsibilities is to assist Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti and the training staff in all areas, including injury management, prevention and rehabilitation as well as emergency procedures on the court.

While working for the D-Fenders since their inaugural season in 2006-07, Nuñez also served as Athletic Trainer for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks for three seasons from 2005-07. An Assistant Trainer for the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League from 1999-2003, he also spent one season as Athletic Trainer for the Carolina Cobras of the AFL in 2004 prior to joining the Sparks.

In the summer and fall of that same year, Nuñez worked as a trainer for the movie “The Longest Yard,” attending to the actors, stuntmen and athletes on set.

A graduate of Cal Poly Pomona with a B.S. in Kinesiology and emphasis in Sports Medicine, Nuñez was born in San Diego but grew up in Los Angeles, graduating from Bishop Mora Salesian High School where he lettered in baseball. When not at practice, a game or traveling with the team, the self-proclaimed “weekend warrior” still enjoys baseball and basketball in his free-time along with spending time with family and friends.

Nuñez and his wife, Krista, reside in Riverside with their two-year old daughter Caitlyn.


Robert "Chip" Schaefer
College:  University of Utah (B.A.)
Loyola Marymount University (M.A.)
Years in NBATA: 18
Entering his 11th season with the Lakers and fifth as Director of Athletic Performance / Player Development, Chip Schaefer works with both Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti and Athletic Performance Coordinator Alex McKechnie to help ensure that the Lakers’ players remain at the peak of athletic conditioning throughout the grueling 82-game season. In addition to the physical aspect of training that Schaefer oversees, perhaps equally important is his work with the youngest Lakers as he helps them transition into the NBA lifestyle and develop professionally.

Prior to joining the Lakers for the 1999-2000 season, Schaefer spent eight years with the Chicago Bulls from 1990-1998 as the head trainer for the team under Phil Jackson during the Bulls’ six championship seasons.

Preceding his tenure with the Bulls, Schaefer was on the staff of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles where he worked with some of the nation’s elite professional and amateur athletes.

Schaefer, who is actually in his second stint as a member of the Lakers athletic support staff, served in a part-time role as the team’s strength and conditioning coach during the 1986-87 season.

In addition, he has served as head athletic trainer at Pete Newell’s Big Man Camps, head athletic trainer for the California Summer Pro Basketball League and was the head athletic trainer and strength coach at Loyola Marymount University for three years. He is also an examiner for the National Athletic Trainers Association certification examination.

Schaefer, 48, was raised in Deerfield, Illinois and later attended the University of Utah where he received his bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports medicine in 1983. He received his master’s degree in counseling from Loyola Marymount in 1990. Upon his graduation from Utah, Schaefer worked as head trainer for the U.S. Men’s Ski Team from 1984-1986.

Schaefer and his wife, Andra, reside in Placentia and have two children, Alec and Emily.
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Sports Drink of the NBATA