Before the first notes are taken and tests handed out, Bagnell will welcome any interested students to help during summer football, with preparations set to begin June 5. Bagnell will talk about heat-related illnesses, basic life support and splinting in order to get the newcomers ready.
Getting students involved, and excited, about athletic training is not the most difficult thing to do, according to Bagnell.
“They love it and are hooked on it right away,” Bagnell said. “They love the action on the field.”
The program will start out with one class of about 25 sophomores and juniors, with the exception of a few seniors, that will cover the basics. Bagnell will acquaint the students with the background of athletic training, the process behind becoming one and what types of careers or schools a student with athletic training experience can get into.
She will then go on to talk about lower extremity injuries, being that they are the most common. In the later courses, she will talk about the legalities of athletic training and how a trainer protects himself, and will also cover upper body injuries.
The students will attend home contests throughout the year to be Bagnell’s “eyes on the field,” where she will also explain what she does in preparation and during games.
Ultimately, Bagnell wants the program to compete with that of the other area school that has an established program already: Mingus Union High School.
“We want to make it big, we want to make it something very popular,” Bagnell said. “We want Sedona Red Rock to have the same type of program with a full-time athletic trainer. I can’t see why Red Rock can’t do the same thing.”
Karuzas, along with former Athletic Director John Parks and Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Dave Lykins, had all looked into the prospect of starting a sports medicine program, but it was never attainable due to budget problems. Budget cuts at Northern Arizona Healthcare also took away the part-time trainers that it provided to the school, forcing the school to find replacements.
But during the last year the school and NAH reached an agreement where NAH will pay the majority of the costs.
The school also applied for an NFL grant that would supplement the remaining costs, making the program free for SRRHS. With the program run through CTE, additional money would be generated through the registered students.
Jon Cook, manager of the EntireCare Rehab and Sports Medicine department at the Verde Valley Medical Center, facilitated the agreement and made the call to Bagnell.
“As I did the background check I’m like ‘We’ve landed a rockstar, this lady is incredible,’” Karuzas said. “She started and is running the program at Eastern Arizona College, and it’s flourishing.”
Bagnell has an extensive background that includes working under the late Pat Summitt as the athletic trainer of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball program. She also worked at Auburn University and gained experience in a clinical setting at a clinic in Athens, Ga.
Currently, Bagnell runs her aforementioned program, the only one accredited in the state, through the Gila Institute For Technology, where students from six nearby high schools attend, too.
Ultimately, Karruzas has the idea of incorporating more levels to the program, much like taking a foreign language, and eventually getting the students into a dual enrollment program. With that, they would gain the credits and hands-on experience to head into a job in the industry or an appropriate school upon graduation.