Article reposted from Sturgis Journal
Three Rivers High School now has an athletic trainer beginning this year.
Western Michigan University graduate student Erik Byl, 22, is now the man in charge of injury maintenance and rehabilitation for the Wildcats.
“Everyone has been really accepting, which is a huge boost for me knowing I’m welcomed here,” Byl said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge, I like being out here on my own. It gives me the confidence in what I am doing.”
Byl, a Jenison native, is a recent graduate of Hope College that has moved on to graduate school in Kalamazoo. He said the WMU athletic training program assigns its graduate students to high schools in the area for athletic training.
The program is also partnered with Bronson Hospital’s sports medicine program, which Byl is a big fan of. He said the graduate students are supervised through the program and often work together with team physicians.
Now that Three Rivers has an athletic trainer, Byl said he will spend the majority of his time in the training room and out at practices and athletic events. He’s still commuting from Kalamazoo, but that’s not too big of a problem.
Byl said his work schedule should be similar during most days, showing up later in the school day and being available for teams and coaches during practice hours and at games and events.
During his short tenure there haven’t been any considerable injuries to date, which is a good thing.
“Nothing huge so far, which is good, we can knock on wood for that,” Byl said. “But we always have to prepare for the worst as well.”
Coaches at Three Rivers have been advocating for an athletic trainer, Byl said, and now he gets to fill the void. Major components to his job will be being available during times when injuries can occur, something he is trained for and looking to provide excellent care.
“The coaches have been super happy to have me here, it’s one extra thing they don’t have to worry about and they can count on me being here,” Byl said. “That’s a great feeling because I want to be able to develop my skills while being independent and building confidence and being reliant.”
One of the challenges, especially for a new face in the system like Byl, is getting all of the school coaches on the same page. Many coaching staffs have to prepare for handling injuries on the field by themselves, but now the Wildcat coaches can be more focused on being coaches.
“It’s a big adjustment from what they are used to, I think,” Byl said. “But all of the coaches have been accepting and open about what I have to say, so that’s definitely important.”