Secondary School

Patched Up: Resources Improve for Colorado Athletic Trainers

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Secondary School

Patched Up: Resources Improve for Colorado Athletic Trainers

Article reposted from The Daily Sentinel
Author:  JON MITCHELL

     Paul Cain feels like he can’t stress the importance of athletic trainers enough. That’s why the athletic director for School District 51 is pleased at how many resources the district has now.

“There’s a lot of value in what we have here,” said Cain, who is in his 17th year in the district. “These trainers impact so many lives, and it’s not just athletes. They’re going into classrooms, working with kids on fitness programs and even kids who simply want to lose weight. It’s something that needs support because it affects more than just athletes.”

The district now has three full-time trainers, which is an increase from the two trainers it had through the end of the 2016-17 school year. Cain was concerned at this time last year when the district was faced with the prospect of not having any trainers for the upcoming academic year.

Fundraising efforts and a little lobbying put the district in a better situation for the four District 51 high schools — Central, Fruita Monument, Grand Junction and Palisade.

“Ideally, we’d like to have a trainer at every high school,” Cain said. “But looking at this now compared to where we were a year ago, we’re definitely making the right kind of progress.”

Cain said he was told by officials at St. Mary’s Medical Center in August 2016 that the hospital would no longer provide athletic trainers to the school district due to budget restraints. That meant the two trainers the district had for the four high schools — Erin Glavan covered Fruita Monument and Grand Junction and Noah Larsen covered Central and Palisade — could be unemployed by the end of the 2016 calendar year and District 51 could be without athletic trainers for its high schools for the upcoming school year.

“Last year at this point was, well, a little worrisome,” Larsen said. “Erin and I love what we do and we love being around these kids. This is a service they really need.”

Cain started a fundraising campaign, reaching out to medical centers across the Grand Valley. Between Community Hospital, Rocky Mountain Orthopedics and St. Mary’s, Cain said the district raised $100,000 to not only extend the program through the end of 2016-17 school year, but also convince district administrators into making Glavan and Larsen full-time district employees.

Additionally, Jennifer Kimbrow was hired by Family Health West when it created a position for a full-time athletic trainer at Fruita Monument, leaving Glavan and Larsen to split time between Grand Junction, Central and Palisade.

“When we were at St. Mary’s, we were limited to 40 hours per week,” Larsen said. “So including the time we had to spend at the hospital, that left us only 15 hours per week to work at each school. You learn to do a lot of things quickly when you don’t have a lot of time.”

Larsen said the added time allows him to get to more sports, and even marching band. It also allows him to arrive at a school when classes are in session and work with students who aren’t involved with sports.

Even with the additional resources, District 51 still lags behind other Western Slope schools. Durango, which according to the Colorado High School Activities Association has an enrollment of 1,102, has two full-time athletic trainers, Larsen said. Coal Ridge, Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Grand Valley in Parachute, which have enrollments ranging from roughly 300 to 900 students, each have their own athletic trainers.

Kimbrow, a former Colorado Mesa basketball player who was hired out of graduate school from CU-Colorado Springs, got to work with athletic trainers throughout Colorado Springs. Each high school, she said, had at least one full-time athletic trainer on hand.

“It’s hard enough to keep up with one high school,” Kimbrow said. “It’s nice to be able to provide that level of service to these athletes, and it’s why I have a lot of respect for what Erin and Noah were able to do for as long as they did.”

Much like Colorado Springs, however, students in Colorado Mesa’s athletic training program this year are on hand to assist and shadow Larsen, Glavan and Kimbrow at football games and plenty of other sporting events. They’re there not only to help tape ankles before a game, but to provide assistance in case of a medical emergency.

“It was nice to see that our superintendent saw a value in this,” Cain said. “In the long term, this is something that affects all students and our district is better off.”

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