A recent state mandate changed the role athletic trainers play in high school sports.
Now, the state board of education requires licensed athletic trainers to attend all football games and practices at high schools across North Carolina.
It is a policy that Henderson County School System has practiced about 30 years, but as of last year, all high schools must follow suit.
Tuesday morning on the steps of the historic courthouse, Henderson Country leaders made the declaration.
Local athletic trainers with Pardee Health, as well as students working toward their degree in the field were applauded for their work.
School administrators say these athletic trainers are critical members of the team because they already have a relationship with the student athletes and can act quickly.
“They know the kids personally. It’s a personal relationship,” Henderson County Athletic Director BJ Laughter said. “Those kids are being taped by them, they’re being iced, e-stemmed, you name it. So they know them by name.”
Laughter says it eases the minds of both administrators and parents to have a certified trainer on-hand should a player get hurt.
If a licensed athletic trainer can not be supplied to a school, a first responder must uphold these duties.
Concussion management and injury prevention are among the areas of specialized training that first responders must complete.