Secondary School

Athletic Trainers a Big Part of Danbury High School’s Success


Secondary School

Athletic Trainers a Big Part of Danbury High School’s Success

Article reposted from newstimes
Author: Ryan Lacey

Serving the athletics programs for the largest high school in the state — a place of close to 3,000 students, 1,600 of whom play at least one sport — is a monumental task. Two of Danbury’s own are currently tasked with that, and have thrived in the hectic atmosphere thanks in part to coming through the school itself.

No two days are the same for athletic trainers Emily Renna and Richard Janey, who both graduated from Danbury and Sacred Heart Universitybefore landing full-time jobs with Select Physical Therapy, the company that has a contract with DHS. Renna joined in 2008 and Janey was added in 2013.

“I have a lot of pride being back at Danbury and I know Richard does to,” Renna said. “I think the kids realize that we try to encourage them to be the best person they can be, and try to make sure they’re polite when they talk to other athletic trainers or coaches. We want people to look at Danbury in a positive light.”

Their contributions go far beyond monitoring the health of the athletes who comprise 62 teams in 25 sports, according to Danbury Athletic Director Chip Salvestrini.

“Both are leaders on our athletic staff and each has helped to mentor numerous Danbury High School students into the college only to choose same career paths of being an athletic trainer,” Salvestrini said. “Clearly they give back to their community and to Danbury High School over and over again. In Emily and Rich we have the best high school athletic trainers in Connecticut, who have set the bar for other school districts to follow.”

A cross country and track standout for the Hatters who threw the javelin at the state level, Renna had several injuries even before high school. Physical therapy was her initial passion, but after discovering athletic training at DHS, her outlook changed.

“I wanted to do physical therapy, but when I got to high school I found out what athletic training was all about,” said Renna, who also teaches dance. “I wanted to work with a population that had such determination and drive to get back to full strength.”

Renna completed the program at Sacred Heart — which included field work at Trumbull High School — and was hired by Select in 2008 to be a floater. Just two months later she was placed at Danbury permantly. Nine years later, it remains home.

For the first five years of her tenure Renna was the sole trainer at the school. Renna credited the athletic staff for guiding her through the transition — former trainer Devin Healy also stayed on for two weeks to help prior to leaving the role.

“I just kind of did it,” Renna said. “The administration at DHS is just amazing. We have huge support from them and our coaches. My first year fresh out of college I certainly went over the 40 hours that I was supposed to. I learned quickly that I was going to burn myself out (and became more efficient).”


Renna’s first year at the school coincided with Janey’s senior year. By then Janey had developed a strong passion for athletic training. He assisted Renna in applying heat packs to fellow students in addition to providing stretching assistance.

“I spent an awful amount of time as a student in the training room — not necessarily because of injuries, though I had my share,” Janey said. “But seeing and how Emily and Devin interacted with the athletes was definitely the highlight of high school for me.”

Injuries didn’t stop Janey from being a standout volleyball player, despite not picking up the sport until a very late stage. He was stopped in the hallway as a sophomore by a coach telling him to give it a shot.

“I had the same misconception that most do, but I gave it a try and fell in love with it,” Janey said. “It’s a very fast-paced game. It’s very technical. The fluid movement of the team is impressive to watch.”

Janey would wind up being just one of six Hatters to ever be named All-FCIAC first team and would continue his career with the Pioneers at the Division I level.

Danbury was given permission to add a second athletic trainer the year Janey graduated from Sacred Heart. The stars aligned and he was given the position. He didn’t need directions on his first day.

“The continuity of care is better because I feel like being alumni of Danbury, knowing size of the school, diversity and how to interact with everyone definitely helped,” Janey said.


The pair arrive at school in the early afternoon to check emails and prepare for the hectic several hours ahead. They are typically greeted by eager students — Janey referred to them as the eighth-period crew — who visit the training room physical.

Athletes are then treated — the amount of tape used could fill up an aisle at Office Depot — up until practice or before game time. When games start Renna and Janey shuttle around in golf carts, responding to whatever injury may take place across the many fields at DHS.

Any significant injury that does take place requires a documented report that is kept for records. The pair lock up after the final practice or game takes place.

“I’d like to think our system is working well,” Janey said. “Athletes with away games are (treated first). This year was unique was because we had off-campus events. I think Emily and myself handled it well.”

Each coach is required to possess certificates in CPR and AED in an emergency, which aids the trainers significantly. An emergency action plan is in place should the trainers take several minutes to arrive.

Unlike most employees in a school system, Renna’s and Janey’s contracts with Select requires them to participate in other activities once they are finished with their commitments at Danbury. Some schools contract their athletic trainers as a cost-saving measure.

“I try to encourage as many people as athletic trainers as possible because we need everyone we can get,” Renna said. “I warn them they should love the profession. If you don’t love it, you’re going to burn out very quickly.”

The pair have avoided the worst-case scenario in regard to treating a catastrophic injury — the closest came during a football game last fall when a spine board was required to remove a player (who made a quick recovery) from the field. Renna said that she had 10 elbow dislocations in her first five years at the school, an injury that isn’t very common at the high school level.

Both reiterated they have unwavering support from Salvestrini and each coach they work with.

“Emily and Chip have created the culture that we are medical professionals who love athletics and competition, but put in place measures to protect and ensure that we are not putting any unnecessary stress on our athletes,” Janey said. “It’s amazing how they’ve created that.”