When a student was overcome with light-headedness during her morning physical education class at John Hersey High School on a recent morning, athletic trainer Hal Hilmer was the first line of defense, elevating the teen’s feet and keeping watch over her until the nurse arrived. For Hilmer, 59, responding to emergencies and working with student athletes has been a labor of love for the past 36 years. Now, as Hilmer approaches his retirement in June, he took a break to reflect on his career at the Arlington Heights high school.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background as an athlete, and what led you to become an athletic trainer at Hersey.
A: I always enjoyed watching sports, but I was no kind of athlete. I played football at my high school in Kirtland, Ohio, but I wasn’t very good at it, so my coach had me help out the team as a manager. He also recommended me to attend a summer camp for high school athletic trainers at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I enjoyed the camp so much, when I graduated from high school, I ended up majoring in health education with a minor in athletic training at Bowling Green University. And then I went on to get my master’s degree in health education at Miami University in 1980, and after that, I was hired here at Hersey, which has been my one and only job. I came from a small town, so coming out here to such a big area was fascinating and a little scary.
Q: There’s so much talk and attention these days about the issue of sports-related concussions. Have you been involved in the conversations here at District 214?