Sara Bunemann always has the best seat in the house for St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School athletic contests. As the school’s athletic trainer, her job is to keep the SAS athletes healthy, safe, and ready for competition. Athletic Trainers are board certified healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians and specialize in the prevention, emergency care, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sports related illnesses. March is National Athletic Training Month.
As athletic trainer, Sara evaluates and treats injuries among the SAS athletes and helps them to minimize lost practice and playing time. With 32 teams in 12 sports and more than 80 percent of the student body participating in interscholastic athletics during the year, that’s a lot of ice and athletic tape. Sara is trained to treat acute injuries on the spot and to help athletes with chronic illnesses to be able to safely exercise and compete.
Sara, who is in her first year at SAS, attended high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts. As a ballet dancer, she travelled around the United States and Europe and danced with a variety of companies. While in San Francisco, she suffered a career-ending injury and had to give up being a professional ballerina. “After my injury,” said Sara, “I knew that I wanted to be in the healthcare profession in order to help people.”
Sara started college as a pre-med major thinking that athletic training would be a backup if she didn’t get into medical school. “By the end of my sophomore year, I had fallen in love with the athletic training profession. I dropped my pre-med major and whole heartedly followed my new career path.”
In addition to athletic training, Sara assists SAS’s middle school Adventure Education classes, making sure that there is an additional adult along for all outings and activities.
“Athletic training is a relatively new healthcare profession and many members of the public have no clue what it entails,” explained Sara. “That’s why March is so important. It gives us ATs a platform from which to educate. Personally, seeing an athlete compete again after an injury is the most rewarding feeling. Whether it’s just an ankle sprain that takes a week to recover or an ACL tear that take 6-7 months, seeing that athlete compete again and do what they love is unparalleled.”
SAS Director of Athletics Rob Zeitler appreciates Sara’s efforts. “The athletic trainer is an invaluable part of every athletic team at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School. Sara ensures that each athlete gets the highest level of care that we can provide, from baseline concussion tests to injury prevention and rehab. In addition, she provides support for each team on a daily basis, making sure there is water at each practice site and giving special attention to those athletes that are coming back from an injury.”