Secondary School

Oklahoma athletic trainers have a hand in every team’s success

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Secondary School

Oklahoma athletic trainers have a hand in every team’s success

Article reposted from Owasso Reporter
Author: Christian Favalora

The turf inside Owasso Stadium always magnifies the heat, often making it several degrees hotter on the field than anywhere else.

Standing there with the team every practice, every game, are the athletic training staff — an unsung bunch of students and professionals who don’t just do a job, they live healing.

Owasso’s athletic department has three trainers on staff — Bryce Sorrier, Beth West and Jim Martinez.

They’re there just in case. They’re there to calm nerves and treat injuries, and for many players, they’re there to keep dreams alive.

“A lot of people consider athletic trainers water boys or water girls and ankle tapers,” Sorrier said, “But I enjoy doing the rehab. I get more satisfaction seeing a kid, we don’t want him injured, but seeing him come back.”

Sorrier and West are entering their fourth year at Owasso, working through the school’s partnership with St. John’s Owasso and Tulsa Bone and Joint.

“Owasso Athletics is proud to have St. John Owasso and Tulsa Bone & Joint as our official sports medicine provider,” Athletic Director Zach Duffield said. “Both organizations are easy to work with and truly care about our student athletes. The players, coaches, and parents notice the dedication that is put in to taking care of our athletes on a daily basis, and the care they receive is second to none.”

In 2015, Owasso seniors Andrew Wilson and Caleb Colvin suffered season-ending injuries in the summertime, before they had a chance to see the field.

Rather than abandon these two — who could no longer contribute to wins — the training staff made them part of their daily work.

“It’s a big part of the profession a lot of people don’t see,” Sorrier said. “Andrew’s hoping to get back to fishing, and Caleb is chasing D-I dreams. It’s about relationships, taking them from start to finish.”

When Colvin, a highly recruited defensive lineman, tore his meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament at a Baylor camp, it was Sorrier who encouraged him to get an MRI.

The results showed a pair of season-ending injuries, ones that would have ended Colvin’s career if he had played on them much longer.

That message, just like the news of Wilson’s injury, was not a popular one to deliver to the coaches.

“A lot of times in this profession, you’re seen as the grim reaper,” Sorrier said. “All you’re doing is bringing bad news. So, if you kinda have a relationship with the coaches and the players, they can gain your trust.”

Sorrier, 30, likes to say that without the skills to communicate clearly, even the smartest human would suffer as an athletic trainer. He, West and Martinez practice what they preach.

When Colvin learned the severity of his injury — rehab lasted nine months — Sorrier was one of the first to text him and offer support.

“Some days I would come in feeling bad and I didn’t want to work, he would always keep me motivated, he would ask me what I’m doing this for,” Colvin said. “Bryce has become one of my best friends.”

The duties are wide ranging for this trio. Each works with multiple sports throughout the year, and all of them, somehow, seem to be everywhere.

They tape ankles and keep athletes hydrated, but they also treat injuries long term.

As a health educator, Martinez extends the experience into the classroom. He teaches a health and wellness class at the high school.

“I try to increase their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and let them know there’s more occupations out there in sports medicine than most of them think,” Martinez said. “Most of them think your have to be a doctor or an athletic trainer and that’s it. Well, that’s not the case.”

Martinez likes to spur thought. He uses his classroom as an avenue for discovery.

“I love what I do because I get to connect with them as a student and a teacher, and I get to connect with them as a student athlete and an athletic trainer,” Martinez said. “Both have different dynamics, and it’s just very rewarding.”

These three may get along as equals, but West, 33, does the hard work — she herds the student trainers.

“Our objective is to educate them on what we do as a profession, and to spark interest in this post-high school,” she said.

West’ story is inspiring. As a freshman at Nathan Hale High School, West suffered a severe injury in softball. Hale’s football coach at the time, Tammy Smith, was a certified athletic trainer, and she took West into her world.

“I was not a very good student in high school, but that motivated me to get involved,” West said. “I probably would not have gone on to college if I didn’t get an athletic training scholarship.”

West went on to complete an education in the field of sports medicine and later became the head trainer at Independence Community College in Kansas before coming to Owasso.

When necessary, the trainers correspond their treatment with the school’s official team physicians, Dr. Navin Kilambi and Dr. Caleb Nunley.

“The coaches here understand we’re here to win a job,” West said. “We get that they’re here to win games, and we’re here to keep the kids safe and protect them, and they respect that. At the end of the day, I think we have a good respect for each other and they know we’re going to make the best decision for the kids.”