#AT4ALLCollege and University

An Ode to the Athletic Trainer


Article reposted from
Author: Bryce Kelley

There once was a trainer

Who stayed up all night

To sit in a waiting room

Shaking with fright

For her athlete had called just hours before

Complaining of chest pains, head pains, nose pains and more.


After hours had passed

And every test was done,

The athlete walked to the trainer with his sorry head hung

For he knew the trainer was about to be told

That the athlete had nothing more than a common head cold.


By now the sun had rose

To reveal a new day

And with it a training room

Where the trainer must stay

Until the last of her hundred-odd athletes had gone

No longer complaining of legs they can’t walk on.


And the trainer went home

To eat her first meal

And wait for tomorrow’s inevitable spiel

About how this calf hurts and how this knee pops,

How this hip aches and how this leg stops.


But patience is key along strong coffee

So the trainer goes to bed

Dreaming of a vacation – or three.

An Ode to the Athletic Trainer

If you’re hurting, you go to the trainers. If you’re sick, you go to the trainers. If you’re like me and need someone to complain to about your statistics class and how there’s no earthly reason you’ll need to know how to reverse code variables, you go to the trainers (they may not listen though, they’re good at tuning me out at this point). Athletic trainers are the lifeblood of college athletics and they don’t get the credit they deserve. So this week, by the power vested in me, I now pronounce The Rundown, lowly as it may be, a dedication to Florida State Athletic Trainers.

By this point in my college running career, a list of my injuries probably looks more like the never-ending receipt you get from CVS after buying a Coke. Or maybe the opening credits to a Star Wars movie. And I wouldn’t be here today, able to still call myself a runner, if it weren’t for the trainers that helped keep the jigsaw puzzle that is my body in one piece. It’s not just me either.

In my time here, I’ve seen miracles be performed on the training table. I’ve seen athletes who spend more time in the training room than at home achieve their dreams that had, at one point, seemed so hopeless. I’ve seen the trainers, like in an episode of Scooby-Doo, solve the mystery of an injury and unmask the culprit – which let’s be honest, was probably just not enough stretching.

I think on every ACC title, hell every national title that FSU has ever earned, there should be, in fine print, a note that reads: “This wouldn’t have been possible without our athletic trainers.”

They really are the glue that holds this team together, or more thematically spoken, the athletic tape that holds this team together. They become our coaches, our parents, and our motivators. They drive us to our appointments and endure the countless hours spent in waiting rooms as doctors try to fit us in (Tallahassee Orthopedic Center, I love you guys, but if you’re reading this, please play something other than HGTV in your waiting rooms. I can’t watch another couple not pick the house that they CLEARLY should pick). But most importantly, our athletic trainers deal with us at our lowest lows so they can help us get to our highest highs.

Being an athletic trainer can be a thankless job. So thank you. Thanks Gwen, Armand, Kyra, and Danielle. Thanks to our past trainers, Natalie, Symone, and Kathleen. Thanks to all the student trainers. So raise your glass of PowerAde. Here’s to you athletic trainers. Ok, I’m done. I’m making myself feel like a pine tree with all this sap.

On another note, the Noles will be in the destination hotspot of South Bend, Indiana to run really fast on Notre Dame’s golf course this Friday.

Bryce Kelley, a graduate student in Integrated Marketing Communications, is a fifth-year Seminole from Hope Valley, R.I. A two-time All-ACC Academic selection in cross country with his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, Kelley will be providing a weekly inside look at the FSU men’s team throughout the season.


How California puts high school athletes at great risk


Article reposted from San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Al Saracevic

As the sun sets and the Friday night lights go on at football fields across California this week, thousands of high school players will prepare to clash.

In the stands, proud parents will look down on the field nervously, outwardly willing their sons to succeed while inwardly praying for their safety.

Missing from the equation, in many of those games, will be certified athletic trainers to watch over the proceedings, ready to address anything from common injuries to life-threatening situations. That’s because California is the only state that does not require its high school athletic trainers to be certified in any way. The state doesn’t even require schools to have trainers at games. So many do not.

It’s a shocking revelation, at a time when injury awareness and concern is at an all-time high — especially in football. We’re worried about the long-term effect of concussions, but we’re not even staffing high school football games with trained professionals? It’s an absurd situation that could be easily rectified.

According to a recent study published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine and conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to minimizing preventable death on the playing field, California ranks second to last in the nation — ahead of only Colorado — when it comes to implementing policies that help prevent the leading causes of sudden death in high school athletes. That dismal result is directly tied to the state’s lack of a coherent policy on trainers.

“California is the only state in the nation that does not regulate athletic trainers,” said Samantha Scarneo, director of sports safety for the Stringer Institute, named for a Minnesota Vikings lineman who died from heatstroke in 2001. “There’s been a lot of push to get licensure (legislation), but the governor keeps blocking it.”

Indeed, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bills in 2014 and 2015 that would have required athletic trainers to be educated and licensed. By explanation, he wrote that the bills would have required anyone using the title “athletic trainer” to go to college, and that would “impose unnecessary burdens on athletic trainers without sufficient evidence that they are really needed.”

Brown might face the issue again next year. There is a bill making its way through the Assembly — AB1510, sponsored by Assemblyman Matthew Dababneh, D-Encino (Los Angeles County) — that would require licenses for athletic trainers. If passed, it would be on the governor’s desk before next fall.

“I felt the need to take action in order for our state to properly protect our student athletes,” said Dababneh, in a statement to The Chronicle. “Athletic trainers are the expert on the sidelines, and the first people able to identify potential injuries. Parents trust these individuals to protect the health of their children but without proper education and training, signs of heatstroke or a concussion can be easily missed. By licensing athletic trainers, AB1510 will effectively protect the athletes by ensuring only qualified individuals can work as an athletic trainer.”

The bill faces opposition from the California Physical Therapy Association, which has held for years that there is no need for a layer of certification for athletic trainers. In a letter to Dababneh last spring, which addressed six concerns, the professional group said, “AB 1510 is highly flawed and addresses no pressing issues facing the State of California and its citizens. Instead this legislation seeks to benefit a single category of individuals.”

Digging a bit deeper, the physical therapists seem most concerned about the scope of the bill, fearing it would give athletic trainers too much leeway to practice medicine.

The bill “absolutely oversteps its bounds and would allow athletic trainers to practice in a way that they’re not trained,” said Chris Reed, a physical therapist and chair of the government affairs committee for the CPTA. “It would be great if we had a bill that would require a trainer on every sideline. This bill doesn’t do that.”

The athletic trainers counter by saying physical therapists are trying to protect their job territory. The argument between the two professional organizations has been going on for years, leading certification efforts down a political rabbit hole the Assembly will wrestle with again in the next session.

In the meantime, sports are being played and California remains the only state without a rational certification process.

“I’m very much for certification,” said Scott Heinrichson, 45, an accredited athletic trainer at St. Francis High School in Mountain View. “We’re dealing with kids on a daily basis. As a parent, you’d definitely want someone in there who is qualified to do that job, not just someone who just says they are qualified.”

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Just this season, a high school football player in Santa Rosa suffered a severe head injury that required brain surgery. During training camp over the summer, a young player in the Bronx collapsed and died, apparently from heat exhaustion. From 1982 to 2015, 735 high school athletes died during and after participating in sports, according to the University of North Carolina’s National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. According to the Stringer Institute, the leading causes of this most tragic result are sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, heatstroke and complications related to sickle-cell trait.

Any of those four medical conditions requires quick-thinking action from a trained professional. But too many California high school athletes are not getting that kind of treatment.

“Athletic trainers need to be licensed in California. The fact is that we deal with a variety of medical conditions on a daily basis, and yet there’s no regulation, there’s no mandate on qualifications,” said Mike Chisar, chair of the California Athletic Trainers Association’s governmental affairs committee. “We wouldn’t go to a physician that hasn’t gone to medical school. To see an athletic trainer to manage your concussion, when that trainer isn’t actually an athletic trainer, doesn’t make sense.”

In other states, athletic trainers need to be college educated, receiving training and degrees similar to other health care professionals, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists or physicians’ assistants.

“There are accredited programs,” said Chisar, an accredited trainer himself. “Every state utilizes the same accredited program. There is one national exam that validates whether you have the skills necessary to function as an athletic trainer. Every state uses it.”

Except California. And that’s why many high school athletes compete with no trained medical staff on hand.

“I’d say it’s about half,” said Heinrichson, when estimating how many Bay Area schools have qualified trainers. “If an emergency happens, are they prepared? You have concussions, and cardiac emergencies. Do you have someone who’s trained to work with that? You also need someone who’s qualified to make return-to-play decisions. Are they making the right decisions, in the best interest of the athlete?”

Of those schools that do have trainers, many aren’t qualified. According to a fact sheet attached to AB1510, “Fifteen universities in California, including seven CSUs, have nationally accredited athletic training education programs. Despite this fact, anyone can still act as an athletic trainer; approximately 30 percent of individuals calling themselves athletic trainers in high schools are not qualified.”

It’s not a pretty picture, but there are steps schools can take while waiting for possible legislative relief.

The Stringer Institute strongly recommends that every school have an emergency action plan, or EAP in trainer parlance, that answers some basic questions. Who should be calling 911? Who goes and gets the athletic director? Who directs (emergency personnel) to the field? What are the directions to the field? Is there a gate that needs to be unlocked?

“It’s a low-cost effort,” said the Stringer Institute’s Scarneo. “There are templates out there that schools can use. Mandating that schools should have a medically specific EAP for sports-related injuries is one area that California could score points, but more importantly save lives. That’s more important than licensure, in my opinion.”

Whether Sacramento listens to this advice, we’ll see. Brown’s office said it does not comment on pending legislation. Perhaps those nervous parents, sweating it out under the Friday night lights, can ask the governor and the Assembly to stop listening to the lobbyists on both sides of the legislative fight and do the right thing by the kids.

“Our message to parents is that if your school can afford to have a football team, they can afford to have an athletic trainer,” said Scarneo. “If they can’t afford an athletic trainer, they can’t afford to have athletics.”

Al Saracevic is sports editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: asaracevic@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @alsaracevic

Tell us your stories

Has your son or daughter been injured while playing high school sports? Did you feel the medical care was sufficient, or not? Share your stories with The Chronicle, which plans to pursue the subject of high school athletic trainers in greater depth. Email Al Saracevic at


#AT4ALLSecondary School

Colorado Physician: Athletic Trainers a Must in Schools


Article reposted from The Pueblo Chieftan
Author: Jon Pompia

A local physician who has long volunteered his services at area high school sporting contests believes certified athletic trainers should be mandatory at Pueblo City Schools’ (D60) four high schools.

Rocky Khosla, a medical doctor with expertise in sports medicine, said D60 should follow the lead of Pueblo County School District 70 and make full-time certified trainers a staffing requirement.

At present, there is one certified trainer and one first-aid responder (non-certified but with training experience) at each of D60’s four high schools.

But the trainer positions are part-time or extra-time, meaning that an educator may fill that role as an additional duty, as an example.

“But all major/physical contact sports have a trainer at all events,” said Rick Macias, D60 athletic director. “In addition to this, many doctors volunteer their time to cover all football games at Dutch Clark Stadium, with American Medical Response present at all athletic contests played at the stadium.”

Dalton Sprouse, D60 communications director, said East, Central and South high schools “are in the process of hiring a certified trainer, but the job pool is limited.

“At this time, however, funding four full-time positions to serve solely as a certified trainer is not a feasible option for us.”

In District 70, the starting salary of a certified trainer is similar to that of a first-year teacher, with job duties to include training, evaluation and injury prevention.

Khosla said D60’s “patchwork quilt” approach to athletic training ultimately falls short, potentially endangering students injured in action.

“Some are certified, some are not. Some are EMTs, some are not,” Khosla said of D60’s trainer corps. “And they are well-intended, don’t get me wrong. But the truth is that certified athletic trainers have to go through a really rigorous curriculum, so you know you have a standard of what to expect.”

There is no Colorado High School Activities Association requirement that certified trainers be on-site during athletic contests or practices, Khosla said. In fact, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association reports that “no state has legislation that requires every high school to have an athletic trainer,” despite several instances in which athletes have been fatally injured during games and practice sessions.

Khosla said several organizations he supports, including the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the NATA, have long pushed for a full-time trainer requirement.

“The majority of high schools do not have certified athletic trainers,” Khosla said. “And I think CHSAA did not want to make that requirement because of the financial drain on schools. But why can’t CHSAA say, ‘If you have enough kids to have a Class 3A or higher team, you should have the finances to hire a certified athletic trainer.'”

And while Khosla praised the presence of AMR at D60 contests, he added, “Those people are well-trained for emergencies and the big catastrophic events, but not necessarily for bumps, lumps and concussions, as examples.”



Protecting student-athletes from heat, head injuries


Article reposted from My AJC
Author: Michael Ollove

Another high school football player, this one a 14-year-old in New York, collapsed on the field and died last week, possibly the result of high heat and humidity.

The death of Dominick Bess of apparent cardiac arrest came at a time when thousands of high school athletes have returned to practice fields. It again raises the question of whether states are doing enough to ensure that student-athletes are safe as they collide into one another, run wind sprints, or dig in against hard-throwing pitchers.

Nearly 8 million kids participated in high school sports last year, the most in U.S. history. The shocking deaths of young student-athletes have prompted some states to weigh major changes.

The California Legislature is considering a bill that would bring athletic trainers under state regulation. Others, including Texas and Florida, are strengthening policies on training during high heat and humidity and on the use of defibrillators during sporting events and practices. They are also moving to require schools to devise emergency plans for managing catastrophic sports injuries. And in response to growing concerns about concussions, the state of Texas recently embarked on the largest study ever of brain injuries to young athletes.

But overall, a just released study of state laws and policies on secondary school sports found that all states could do more to keep high school athletes safe. And some have a long way to go.

The study has prompted a strong pushback, including from the national organization that represents state high school athletic associations. But it also has encouraged some athletic trainers and sports medicine physicians who hope poor rankings will impel their states to make improvements and avoid exposing student-athletes to needless risk.

“I was embarrassed we were last,” said Chris Mathewson, head athletic trainer at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colo., speaking of his state’s showing in the study’s ranking of state safety efforts. “My hope is it will kick people in the pants and get people to do something about it.”

The rankings were devised by the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI), also known as Stringer, which is a part of the University of Connecticut and provides research, education and advocacy on safety measures for athletes, soldiers and laborers engaging in strenuous physical activity. It was named for a Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman who died of heat stroke during a preseason practice in 2001. His death sparked changes in NFL training practices and influenced reforms at the college and high school levels as well.

The rankings are based on whether states have adopted more than three dozen policies or laws derived from recommendations published in 2013 by a task force that included representatives from KSI, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. The recommendations cover such areas as prevention of heat stroke, cardiac arrest and head trauma, as well as qualifications of school athletic trainers and educating coaches in safe practices.

Some state athletic associations, including Colorado’s, and the National Federation of State High School Associations, known as NFHS, which represents the associations that govern high school extra-curricular activities, have objected to the methodology of those rankings. They say it relies too much on information found on the websites of state athletic associations while failing to note efforts those groups have undertaken to reduce risks to high school athletes.

“By ‘grading,’ state high school associations based on a limited number of criteria, KSI has chosen to shine a light on certain areas, but it has left others in the dark,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. He pointed to steps his group and its members have taken related to safe exertion in heat and humidity, use of defibrillators and tracking head injuries, which Stringer didn’t take into account.

In Colorado, Rhonda Blanford-Green, commissioner of the state’s High School Activities Association, said officials are “comfortable and confident that our (policies) meet or exceed standards for student safety.”

She complained that Stringer’s methodology is too rigid. For example, she noted that Stringer penalized states that did not require that all football coaches receive safety training taught by USA Football, the governing body for amateur football. But, she said, Colorado coaches are trained in other programs that she described as more comprehensive.

She also noted that her association was penalized because it made policy recommendations to its high school members, rather than making them requirements, as Stringer prefers.

The scholastic association in California, which finished just ahead of Colorado, also objected to the survey. Its executive director, Roger Blake, suggested that funding was a chief barrier to progress.

California Interscholastic Federation “member schools will need more funding, more AEDs (automated external defibrillators), more athletic trainers and more research to help support our efforts to minimizing risk,” Blake said. “With the assistance of everyone who cares about young athletes, including KSI, we can continue to progress.”

Between 1982 and 2015, 735 high school students died as a result of their participation in school sports, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina. The vast majority of those deaths were related to football, and three-quarters of the overall deaths were attributed to cardiac arrest, respiratory failure or other ailments associated with physical exertion. The rest were linked to trauma, such as head injuries.

More of those deaths occurred in the 15 years prior to the year 2000 rather than the 15 years after — likely a reflection of the fact that most of the policies and laws pertaining to safety in high school sports were put in place after 2000, particularly in the last nine years.

In 2014-15, the last year for which there are statistics, 22 high school athletes died, 14 of them football players.

Some of the reforms carry the names of student-athletes who died while participating in school sports. That was true in North Carolina after the 2008 death of Matthew Gfeller, a 15-year-old sophomore linebacker who died in the fourth quarter of his first varsity game in Winston-Salem after colliding helmet-to-helmet with another player.

Now a foundation and a brain injury research institute at the University of North Carolina are named after Matthew. His name and that of another North Carolina high school football player, Jaquan Waller, who died the same year as a result of on-field head injuries, are attached to a 2011 North Carolina law that specifies concussion education for coaches and concussion protocols to be followed in high school athletics.

“Was the information out there in ’08?” said Matthew’s father Robert, who created the foundation. “No, but it’s out there now, big time.”

Despite the progress, the Stringer rankings demonstrate the distance many athletic trainers and doctors believe states still need to go to protect student-athletes.

For instance, although North Carolina finished No. 1 in the Stringer rankings, it has adopted only 79 percent of the laws or policies used in the rankings. In particular, Stringer found the state hadn’t done enough to make certain that defibrillators — and people trained to use them — were present at sporting events.

Many athletic trainers, such as Jason Bennett, president of the California Athletic Trainers’ Association, say the rankings should create urgency in his state and others. “This is life and death,” Bennett said. “The sad thing is that in many of these cases, the deaths were 100 percent preventable.”

California fared particularly poorly because it is the only state that does not regulate athletic trainers.

“Sometimes it’s the school’s janitor or maybe a friend of the coach,” said Democratic California Assembly member Matt Dababneh, who introduced a bill that would create state licensure for athletic trainers. “These are people who are making decisions about whether a kid who has just been hit in the head can safely go back into a game. And they have no qualifications to make that decision.”

The bill would not require all schools to employ an athletic trainer, although that’s exactly what many athletic trainers and sports medicine doctors say would best ensure the safety of student-athletes.

“The No. 1 thing we can do to make high school and youth sports safer is to have athletic trainers at any sporting event,” said Michael Seth Smith, co-medical director of a sports medicine program at the University of Florida focused on sports medicine for adolescents and high school students.

A survey from Stringer and others published this year found that fewer than 40 percent of public secondary schools in the U.S. had a full-time athletic trainer.

Mathewson, the athletic trainer in Colorado, said he has little sympathy for smaller schools who say they can’t afford athletic trainers. “If you can afford to put a football team on the field, you should be able to afford an athletic trainer.”

In a number of places, including in Florida and North Carolina, hospitals subsidize athletic trainers working in public schools, some in the expectation that after a year or two, the school district will pick up the costs.

Aside from the salary of an athletic trainer, schools could adopt most of the best practices at an initial cost of $5,000 and an outlay of less than $2,500 a year thereafter, according to Springer CEO Doug Casa.


SDSU’s Steve Fisher: How California can keep athletes safe


Article reposted from San Diego Union Tribune
Author: Steve Fisher

It’s every parent’s nightmare: You’re watching your son play basketball and all of a sudden he collapses. You don’t know what’s happening, how to help or even if he is going to be all right.

In my tenures as head basketball coach at San Diego State University and University of Michigan, all of the players under my charge were my sons. I still remember vividly watching Dwayne Polee II running down the court and suddenly collapsing in a 2014 SDSU game against UC Riverside. Polee may have been in a world of hurt if it weren’t for our certified athletic trainer at the time, Tom Abdenour, who was formerly the head athletic trainer for the Golden State Warriors.

I credit Abdenour with helping save Polee’s life by implementing crucial emergency procedures to restart his heart.

But, every day, Californians are putting their athletes at risk because there are not enough athletic trainers and the ones we have are unregulated.

In fact, according to a recent study by the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, we are ranked second to last in the nation for implementing policies that are intended to keep the state’s more than 785,000 high school athletes safe every year and help prevent sudden death and catastrophic injury.

One critical reason for this appalling rating is that California is the only state that does not regulate athletic trainers — professionals charged with the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses sustained by athletes and other individuals of all ages. Athletic trainers are the medical experts on the sidelines and a player’s first line of defense when an injury occurs.

I was lucky that the schools I worked at had certified athletic trainers to protect our talented athletes, but many athletes are not so fortunate.

Every state except ours requires that anyone who is hired as an athletic trainer has the required education and certification to provide lifesaving care. In California, anyone can be hired to act as an athletic trainer and provide treatment to athletes.

“Unqualified individuals are falsely representing themselves as athletic trainers to California athletes and their family members,” said Dr. Cindy Chang, a UC San Francisco clinical professor and past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. “We’re aware of serious mistakes that have resulted from this lack of licensure.”

Last school year, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), surveyed 1,406 high schools across the state and found that more than 45 percent of high schools did not have an athletic trainer. Of those that did, more than 15 percent had an athletic trainer who was not certified.

That means more than 60 percent of our kids who play high school sports are at risk of not having a qualified athletic trainer to protect them in cases of cardiac arrest, concussions and heat illness, among other issues.

Even if your school has a certified athletic trainer on its staff, when athletes play at other schools, there’s no guarantee these institutions do.

To keep our athletes safe, Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Woodland Hills, has introduced Assembly Bill 1510, which would require individuals to be certified by the Board of Certification before they can call themselves “athletic trainers” — notably, at no cost to taxpayers.

This bill has tremendous support, including from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, CIF, NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations and nearly 40 other organizations.

I credit San Diego State’s athletic trainers as members of the core team that make the Aztecs’ success possible. Multiple severe ankle problems, dislocated fingers and other injuries are common in basketball. It’s imperative that teams have a certified athletic trainer on-site to address them.

I’ve seen athletic trainers rehabilitate incoming athletes who were injured and may have had their careers halted before they even began, such as Tim Shelton and Chase Tapley, who both played on SDSU’s 2010-11 basketball team, with a school record 34-3 season and SDSU’s first Sweet 16.

Concerned athletes, parents and community members can keep our players safe by learning more at the California Athletic Trainers’ Association’s website at and supporting AB 1510. Parents should also ask their children’s schools if they have a certified athletic trainer on staff, and verify athletic training credentials at

As Dababneh said, “No parent should wonder if their child will be safe on the field or court.”

Fisher was the head basketball coach for San Diego State University from 1999-2017 and is also known for coaching as the University of Michigan, where his team won the 1989 NCAA championship and where he later coached the Fab Five. He currently holds a part-time role with SDSU’s athletic department.


Charleston Southern Athletic Trainer Healing Hearts and minds with hope


Article reposted from The Post and Courier
Author: Warren Peper

What did you do this summer? Just chill? Lounge at the beach? Listen to a cool mountain stream?

My guess is that few of us experienced anything close to what Hanan Sokol saw.

Sokol, while attending a service at Seacoast Church, learned of an opportunity called Bread of Life Africa. After a little soul searching, he felt compelled to join 10 others on a missionary trip to Turkana, Kenya.

From June 9 to 23, he lived in the desert.

Sokol works as an athletic trainer at Charleston Southern University. Educated to provide hands-on therapy for injured athletes, this trainer’s two weeks ministering and interacting with people living in grass huts opened his eyes and heart in ways he never expected.

The women draw water from a well and often walk 2 or 3 miles to retrieve it. The children wear no shoes, yet constantly display blinding smiles.

They speak a language that has no word for “sad.” Their primary emotional expression is laughter.

The harsh environment is unrelenting. There were flies everywhere during the day but thankfully no bugs at night. Sokol often slept outside on an inflatable mattress under the stars.

One day, the team made bricks out of clay and water. They shaped ’em, slapped ’em, packed ’em and stacked ’em to dry under the African sun. The bricks would be used to construct a center for widows.

A little first-aid kit

In Sokol’s backpack he brought some simple tools of his trade just in case. Gauze, ointments, hydrogen peroxide and bandages were included. It wasn’t that he thought he might have to wrap someone’s sprained ankle, he just wanted to be prepared.

Sokol doesn’t believe in coincidences. He firmly believes what The Bible states, “that all things work together.”

A few days after the team arrived, he met 7-year-old Anna. Weeks earlier, a snake bit one of her fingers. There are only two types of snakes in the region, a rattlesnake and the black mamba.

The little girl’s finger had been given minor attention by a field medic at the time of the bite, but there had been no treatment since. The bandage was dirty and soaked with blood. The finger was black and infected.

Sokol opened his makeshift first-aid kit and went to work. He cleaned the wound, changed the dressing and even gave her some generic antibiotics that he’d brought in his bag.

For the next seven days, Anna returned to the base compound to see Sokol. Her village was 3 miles away, but she walked to see him every day. When she arrived, Sokol would clean the infected area and apply a new dressing.

By the time Sokol said goodbye to Anna, new skin was growing, the bite marks had disappeared and only some dead skin was apparent on the tip of the finger.

Mission and memories

Without cell service or internet access, it’s easy to feel isolated and out-of-touch in such areas of the world. In a strange way, though, Sokol and his group became even more connected to the villagers they met during that two-week stay.

The compound did have a generator that allowed Sokol to charge his phone each night.

Why did having a cell phone become important without any service? Many of those children had never seen their own faces. They didn’t know how they looked.

Seeing themselves in a photo created a new reality. Hearing that each one of them mattered opened new understandings of love that stretched far beyond their homeland.

As Sokol treats the college athletes in his care with heating pads, knee braces and Kinesio tape, his mind wanders to those children in Kenya. When he gets a quiet moment, he’ll pull out his phone and start scrolling through the photos.

Little Anna’s smile and healing finger always lifts his spirit and immediately makes him smile. It also serves to remind him how big a difference a little first-aid kit can make.

Reach Warren Peper at


Legislation urges California to require licensure of athletic trainers


Article reposted from The Galt Herald
Author: Kerensa Uyeta-Buckley

Forty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, require athletic trainers to be licensed and certified, including those that work at high schools.

California is the odd man out in this scenario, and Assemblymember Matt Dababneh is hoping to improve prep athletes’ safety with a bill that will be heard in the California State Assembly and Senate in 2018.

Dababneh introduced Assembly Bill 1510, known as the Athletic Training Practice Act, earlier this year with the goal to make sure that athletic trainers that work with high school athletes are licensed, as well as creating the Athletic Trainer Licensing Committee within the California Board of Occupational Therapy.

The Korey Stringer Institute of the University of Connecticut ranked California second to last for its level of preparedness or the amount of safeguards it has in place in regard to high school athletes’ safety to prevent catastrophic injury or sudden death.

Both Galt High School and Liberty Ranch High School employ athletic trainers who are certified.

However, approximately 30 percent of people who call themselves athletic trainers in California are not qualified to treat athletes, according to the California Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Dababneh said that he created the bill upon researching high school athletic trainers in the state and finding incidents where injuries occurred, leading him to want to ensure the highest measures are taken when it comes to prep sports safety.

“Every year we see a number of very tragic stories in the state where you’ll have an athlete collapse on the field, and we’ve seen a number of stories like that. It’s something where you might not realize there’s a direct correlation because you don’t always know the warning signs,” Dababneh told The Galt Herald on Aug. 21.

A former high school athlete himself, Dababneh still feels the effects of some minor injuries to this day and feels that some players have a desire to get back on the field quickly but that strict measures to enforce athletic trainers’ regulations might help prevent long-lasting injuries or even death.

The study cited that the leading causes of death among secondary school athletes are: sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heatstroke, and exertional sickling.

“I started going back to my district and started talking to coaches, physical education teachers, etc. I know, as a student athlete, you always want to play. You think you’re invincible and you may not have the best judgment to think I shouldn’t go on the field,” Dababneh said, referring to high school athletes.

Each state was assessed and scored based on five areas evaluating “sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heatstroke, appropriate medical coverage and emergency preparedness,” according to the Korey Stringer Institute.

Those people who act as athletic trainers but are not licensed include coaches, teachers, and other high school staff, according to CATA, which also notes that job descriptions for athletic trainers in many high school districts do not mention education or athletic training certification.

“A lot of parents and students hear the word athletic trainer and you have a double-edged sword where you have this false security that even parents, teachers believe the persons being called an athletic trainer has that experience,” Dababneh said.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the NCAA are among organizations asking Governor Brown for athletic trainers to be regulated, according to a March 24 press release by CATA. The National Federation of State High School Associations and California Interscholastic Federation section commissioners also support this idea, according to the same press release.

The bill is up to be heard at the start of next year.

#AT4ALLSudden Cardiac Death

Quick-thinking Maryland Athletic Trainer helps save a man’s life


Article reposted from Washington Post
Author: Scott Allen

It’s been an eventful few months for Anthony Benyarko since he became the Maryland men’s lacrosse team’s trainer in February. After the Terps captured their first national championship since 1975 on Memorial Day, Benyarko proposed to his girlfriend on the Gillette Stadium field. The intense emotions that Benyarko felt on that joyous day were rivaled by what he experienced on a lacrosse field in Lake Placid, N.Y., last Wednesday, when he helped save a man’s life.

Benyarko was in the trainer’s tent at the Lake Placid Summit Classic, a lacrosse tournament for men and women of all ages, when he received word that a player on the Ohio Wesleyan alumni team was experiencing chest pains. Before Benyarko and Penn trainer Anthony Erz, who also was working the tournament, started their 100-yard sprint toward Field 3, Benyarko thought to grab an automated external defibrillator.

“Something told me I should probably take the AED with me, just in case, because the group was 50-year-olds and up,” he said this week.

Benyarko and Erz arrived to find 54-year-old John Sussingham sitting up on the ground. While Erz called 911, Benyarko began talking to Sussingham, who said he felt tightness in his chest. About a minute later, Sussingham reported experiencing more intense chest pain and numbness in his left hand before losing consciousness. Benyarko did chest compressions and delivered a shock using the AED, which advised doing CPR.

“Halfway into my second cycle, his chest started to rise and he started breathing,” Benyarko said. “His eyes opened up again. We were pretty excited because your adrenaline is rushing, his wife was there, his son was there, all his teammates were there. That was a good moment, but we honestly celebrated too early.”

Sussingham’s chest pain returned and his arms went numb. State troopers told Benyarko and Erz that paramedics were on their way from Saranac Lake, which was 20 minutes away. Lake Placid volunteer EMT Mellissa “Missy” Furnia arrived on the scene and took over compressions after Sussingham had another heart attack and started to seizure. Benyarko worked to keep Sussingham’s airway open.

“You take the CPR course at the Red Cross and it’s nothing like the real thing,” Benyarko said. “People are screaming and yelling all around you. It’s really hard to focus. He started turning blue and I was getting a little bit worried and then the AED kicked back in. The AED advised a shock again. He had no pulse, so we started CPR, did CPR again, then it advised another shock. The third time we shocked him he started breathing again and his eyes opened.”

When the paramedics arrived, Benyarko said they gave Sussingham an IV and administered epinephrine. Sussingham started talking and was transported to a hospital, where the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported he had a stent placed in his artery.

“I’m feeling great,” Sussingham told the Daily Enterprise the following day. A teammate texted Benyarko a photo of Sussingham giving the thumbs-up sign from his hospital bed.

“It was a relief,” said Benyarko, who never experienced a similar emergency during his 10 years as an athletic trainer at the University of Albany before coming to Maryland. “People asked me how long it took. I couldn’t tell you. I lost all track of time really. You were just concentrated on one thing, and it was great having other people there to help.”

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Maryland Coach John Tillman arrived at the tournament a couple of days later and asked Benyarko why he hadn’t told him about his lifesaving incident.

“I was just like, I don’t know, it’s not something you brag about in a group of people,” said Benyarko, whose wedding is set for September 2018. “It just happened and you try to move on from it, you know? It kind of got bigger than I thought it would. … This summer has definitely been a roller coaster. I’m blessed.”

#AT4ALLSecondary School

Athletic trainers are first line of defense in heat-related illness for athletes


Article reposted from the hub

As Dallas ISD football programs welcome their student-athletes back onto the field, the district’s coaches and athletic training staff are working together to ensure student-athlete safety is a priority during the often  soaring summer temperatures.

Heat illness is the leading cause of preventable illness in high school athletics. And high-intensity outdoor sports during the summer months poses the greatest risk for these heat-related issues.

The Dallas ISD Athletics department has placed licensed athletic trainers (LAT) at each of the district’s comprehensive high schools to monitor the health and safety of the district’s estimated 10,000 student-athletes. A $3 million proposal approved by the district’s Board of Trustees in 2013 funded the athletic trainers.

The LATs have the ability to add water breaks at practices, call off practices due to extreme conditions, or recommend lighter practice gear during a workout session. In addition, the University Interscholastic League and the National Federation of State High School Associations have disallowed practices to take place between noon and 6 p.m. during the first two weeks of the high school football training season.

In addition, LATs and coaches are educated on signs and symptoms of heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

#AT4ALLSecondary School

New Jersey ranks among safest in nation for high school athletes


Article reposted from

The New Jersey Scholastic Athletic Association is among the best in the country in the area of managing injury risk to high school student-athletes, according to the Korey Stringer Institute’s national ranking of statewide athletic associations.

The NJSIAA, which has long been a leader in implementing and adopting safety protocols, ranked fourth out of 51 statewide athletic associations, according to the institute’s Health and Safety Policy Ranking for High School Athletics, which was released during a press conference at the NFL’s headquarters in New York City last week.

North Carolina, whose state university runs the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, was found to have had the most comprehensive health and safety polices in place for secondary school athletics. Kentucky, Massachusetts and New Jersey followed.

NJSIAA officials, who have yet to issue a press release regarding their national ranking, may be reluctant to do so after National Federation of State High School Associations Executive Director Bob Gardner rebuked the institute’s report in defense of NFHS members who scored poorly.

Gardner alleged the institute’s assessment provided “an incomplete measurement of the efforts employed by states to assist their member schools with heat, heart and head issues” and claimed the rankings are “based on a limited number of criteria.”

A analysis of the NJSIAA’s policies as graded by the institute appear to corroborate the national ranking of the NJSIAA, which has long been regarded as a model for other statewide athletic associations.

Established at the University of Connecticut following the death from exertional heat stroke in August 2011 of former Minnesota Vikings football star Korey Stringer, the institute’s mission is to provide research, education, advocacy and consultation to maximize performance, optimize safety and prevent sudden death for athletes and others.

Gardner said NFHS members have “been promoting risk-minimization precautions in their schools’ athletic programs for many more years than the seven-year existence of the (institute)” and questioned why the institute “has proclaimed itself as judge and jury of heat-illness prevention and other safety issues.”

According to the institute, 735 secondary student-athletes died and another 626 suffered catastrophic injuries nationwide from 1982 to 2015 as a result of direct (athlete-to-athlete or athlete-to-object) and indirect (exertional heat stroke, sudden cardiac arrest, asthma) causes. The leading causes of death were sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries and exertional heat stroke.

The institute used a rubric to asses each statewide athletic association in five equally weighted areas including sudden cardiac arrest, traumatic head injuries, exertional heat stroke, appropriate medical coverage and emergency preparedness.

Current evidence-based best practices from the Interassociation Task Force for Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics published in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2013 were used to create the rubric.

The NJSIAA received a perfect score on the sudden cardiac arrest section and a perfect score on the heat acclimatization portion of the external heat stroke section.

With 90 percent of its member schools having a certified athletics trainer on site, the NJSIAA scored well in the appropriate medical coverage section.

In the area of emergency preparedness, the NJSIAA received a high score for member schools’ emergency action plans and for the CPR/AED and first aid training coaches receive.

Despite the state legislature intervening in the area of concussion, the NJSIAA received just six of 20 points in the traumatic head injuries section, losing 10 points because coaches do not require certification in Heads Up Football training, a player safety program USA Football developed five years ago.

The NJSIAA would have fared better in the exertional heat stroke section had it predicted its policy regarding heat-related illness on the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) monitor, which experts believe is a better gauge than the heat index in determining potentially hazardous environmental conditions for exercise.

State Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan said earlier this month that he will introduce legislation mandating that all school districts purchase and utilize a WBGT monitor.

Diegnan has been a longtime supporter of student-athlete safety. He sponsored and authored legislation regarding the NJSIAA’s current concussion policy and the New Jersey State Department of Education’s current policy on sudden cardiac arrest in student-athletes.

The NJSIAA’s steroid testing policy – the first of its kind nationally and one that was implemented a decade ago – was not factored into the institute’s assessment of the statewide athletic association.

“Certainly, there is room for improvement, and the American educational system will continue to be resource-challenged,” Gardner said regarding the institute’s rankings. “Providing more research data, as well as funds to enact more prevention programs, would be much more useful than giving grades to these associations.

“Schools will need more funding, more defibrillators, more athletic trainers and more constructive legislation. With the assistance of everyone who cares about young athletes, including [the Korey Stringer Institute], we can keep getting better.”

The institute believes preparing for an emergency should be the top priority for schools to ensure the safety of their athletes. Through the implementation of required policies and procedures, schools can be well prepared in the unfortunate event of a catastrophic injury.