Secondary School

Athletic Trainers are football’s real ‘special team’


Secondary School

Athletic Trainers are football’s real ‘special team’

Success is determined by the number of athletes that are safe and healthy

It’s every coach, player and fan’s worse nightmare at any football game.The whistle blows to signal the end of play and bodies begin to unravel, except one.

Everyone’s attention is immediately drawn to the player who did not get up, who lays there writhing in pain after suffering an injury.

I have watched countless football games and my stomach still twists and turns when I witness this scene unfold.

On Friday, Monett lost kicker Cameron Cody on the very first play of the game.

Cody made a touchdown-saving tackle on Lamar returner Anthony Wilkerson on the opening kickoff. Cody hit Wilkerson hard enough that he dislodged the ball and caused a massive dogpile at the Cubs’ 20-yard line.

As a sweaty mass of humanity dove for the loose pigskin, Cody took a helmet to the knee, according to Lamar coach Scott Bailey, who was closest to the play.

While the officials moved the players off the pile, Cody rolled to his back and gabbed his facemask with both hands.

Instead of the Cubs’ defense running onto the field, it was a different type of special team that was brought into action.

Cox athletic trainer Amanda Harbaugh went running onto the field, followed closely by athletic trainers from Lamar — all under the supervision of hundreds of deathly quiet fans.

Athletic trainers are taught to look for and recognize injuries that maybe subtle. Trainers provide untold cost savings to parents. They work to develop a plan with each coach with emphasis on proper nutrition, stretching, pulling and weight lifting, developing an injury awareness and therapy program.

They also serve as an educational tool for athletes, coaches and parents, getting athletes ready for the physical nature of their sport and preparing athletes to return to the game after and injury.

Most of all, trainers allow coaches to coach, and not have to play doctor on the sidelines.

When Matt Holt coached football at Pierce City, he said the greatest benefit for him was the relief of not having to make a split-second call as to whether an athlete was ready to go back into the game.

Holt said that his focus was about what was happening on the field. His biggest fear was not recognizing something like a mild concussion and then sending that athlete back into the game and then watching them make the injury worse.

The athletic trainer solved that headache for him.

Monett, on Friday, needed all of their insurance. Cody suffered a broken leg that required him to be transported to Kansas City for surgery. He has already undergone two procedures and is scheduled for another later this week.

For Cody, the road back will be long, but there will be a trainer with him every step of the way. It’s just one more advantage of being a Monett athlete.

Greg Gilmore, Cox’s athletic training coordinator summed it up best when he once told me: For the athletic trainer, success is not measured by the number of championships won by teams you are affiliated with. Success is determined by the number of athletes that are safe and healthy.

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of The Monett Times. He can be reached, or 417-235-3135.