College and University

Bears rally behind Potsdam assistant athletic trainer diagnosed with cancer


Article reposted from Watertown Daily Times

About a month ago, Alex Berking, an assistant athletic trainer at SUNY Potsdam, went to the Canton-Potsdam Hospital with headaches and vision problems. A few days later, she was undergoing surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center to remove 90 percent of a cancerous brain tumor.

Now Ms. Berking is preparing for radiation and chemotherapy treatment to eliminate the last of the tumor with the support of the SUNY Potsdam community.

During the women’s hockey game on Tuesday, Ms. Berking skated out to join the team for their photo out on the ice.

“The players really like her,” said Daniel H. Bronson, SUNY Potsdam sports information director. “I think she’s pretty close to the team.”

Ms. Berking joined the athletic department before the 2015-16 season, and works with players on a number of teams, including hockey, lacrosse and soccer, evaluating injuries and helping them recover.

“She’s a great person,” said Michael Pitts, head athletic trainer. “Most people, if they got news like that, would go into a shell — but not Alex.”

Ms. Berking’s diagnosis came about a year after her father, Christopher Berking, died of cancer. This past summer, her sister, Meghan Berking, ran across the country in honor of their father, covering over 4,000 miles with a team of runners to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

As Ms. Berking faces her own cancer treatment, the athletes she has helped — current and former — have rallied to help her.

Ms. Berking is scheduled to undergo six weeks of intense radiation treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. After that, she hopes to return to work while undergoing chemotherapy treatment in Potsdam.

Two days ago, Jordan Ott, assistant softball coach and Ms. Berking’s roommate, started a GoFundMe online fundraiser. At the time of writing, it had already collected over $23,000 in donation, many from current Potsdam athletes or alumni of the program, according to Mr. Bronson.

Starting this weekend, all Bears games will have buckets for collecting donations toward Ms. Berking’s care, and all money raised from chuckApuck competitions at hockey games will be donated to her.

To learn more, or donate to Ms. Berking’s care, visit

Secondary School

New Jersey Athletic Trainer Closes out 47 Year Career


Article reposted from Tap into Chatham

It was a 47-year journey for Al Errico in his career as an athletic trainer, but he finally achieved one of his lifelong goals when he came to the end of the road, serving as a part-time athletic trainer for Chatham High School over the past two years.

“It’s something I always wanted to do from when I graduated from college, to work in Chatham,” Errico said. “It happened at the end of my career, not the beginning. It’s my hometown I’ve always had pride in Chatham.”

The 70-year-old Errico retired this month, with the Chatham High boys soccer game held on Oct. 27 marking his final game.

“I learned that something new and interesting can happen at any time, at any place,” Errico said of his career. “My overall impression has been that the athletes have always been very respectful, the coaches likewise, so it’s been a pleasant time, especially the Chatham coaches and staff. They’ve made me feel a part of the team whenever I’ve been there.”

Errico was part of the team at Chatham High in the 1960’s when football coach Herm Herring made him the manager of the team.

“I was too small to play football when I was in high school, soaking wet I was 130 pounds, compared to what Chatham had at that time, a line that averaged 250 pounds,” Errico said. “I wanted to get involved. Herm Herring accepted me as his manager. We had great teams in those days.”

From Chatham he went to Seton Hall University and received his degree in Physical Education and Health, being mentored in athletic training by Eddie Coppola of Seton Hall and Sam Martucci of Seton Hall Prep. He started out as a graduate assistant at Columbia University, where he was a teacher in the PE department for two years.

“Columbia was one of the best experiences I ever had in dealing with the students,” Errico said.

Along the way, there were stops working as an athletic trainer in Old Bridge, Pennsville, Elizabeth, Union, West Orange and Madison. He also covered games for the Morris County Secondary School Ice Hockey League.

A member of the National Athletic Trainers Association since 1969, Errico got a chance to work in national and international tournaments as an athletic trainer, including the Special Olympics and U.S. Blind Athletes Association.

“I even did a short stint with an AAU junior basketball team that went to Europe for two weeks, playing in Italy, Denmark, France, Sweden, and Greece,” he said.

Now that he has more free time, he will on keep in shape at the gym and continue hobbies such as growing vegetables as a member of the Morris County Park Commission Community Garden. The late Farmer Paul Suszczynski dubbed him “Chemical Al” because of the fertilizers he uses in his garden.

“They don’t call me Chemical Al for nothing,” he said. “My cabbage heads get to be 10 pounds. I’ve also grown tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and other vegetables.”

Since 2007, he was able to work on a per diem basis for a number of schools until the Chatham Board of Education added a part-time athletic trainer position. Errico had a short commute to Chatham High from his home on Pine Street.

“I want to thank the Chatham Board of Education and the parents of Chatham for allowing me to work with the athletes,” Errico said. “I really appreciated that. I want to especially thank Bill Librera and his assistant, Ginny Leslie, who treated me very professionally and I will consider them friends for the rest of my life.

“I also want to thank Mike Colavita, the athletic trainer at Chatham High for allowing me to work with him. He is one of the best athletic trainers that I know in the county and the state. I’m grateful that the Chatham coaching staff treated me professionally and as a friend.”


Athletic training staff get injured Alabama players healthy again


Article reposted from Tuscaloosa News

Every Alabama football player is required to have his ankles taped or braced for every practice or game. That means every player comes to see Jeff Allen and his staff before every practice and every game.

He’ll tape about 15 players a day before practice and more on game days. That’s about two hours of work every day. Some may consider it one of the more ponderous tasks of his profession. Allen doesn’t.

“It matters,” Allen said. “It’s not just a menial task. It matters.”

The way Allen – Alabama’s associate athletics director for sports medicine – sees it, about a quarter of the injuries he and the medical staff deal with are ankle injuries. That’s why every player is required to be taped, every day.

“If we don’t tape them and don’t do a good job of it, I guarantee you, our injuries are going to shoot up,” he said. “When I’m taping them, I’m like, ‘OK, I’m protecting this guy so that he can stay on the field.’ I’m not just throwing some tape on him. I’m doing it the right way, doing it the way that’s going to work biomechanically and physiologically so that we keep this guy on the field.”

So players begin putting their name on a list to be taped, and the process starts around noon. It goes until meetings at 2 o’clock on a normal practice day.

But there’s also more to it than biomechanics and ankle support. Those two hours every day are the time for Allen and the athletic trainers to build bonds with players.

“The guys that I tape every day, definitely it’s a great way to sit there and talk to them, just like a barber does when you sit there in a chair,” Allen said. “We certainly use that as an opportunity to build those relationships.”

Trust is key in the relationship between players and athletic trainers. The medical staff, by nature, will spend the most time with players who are injured. They’re the ones running on the field when a player stays down after a tackle.

The relationships have to start before then. Most athletes arrive at Alabama with no experience of working with a professional medical staff on a day-to-day basis. Allen and the medical staff have to build that trust before injuries strike. The alternative can be corrosive to a team’s culture.

“The main thing, and I’ve seen it happen where the athletic trainers, the players, and the coaches aren’t on the same page and there’s some controversy or lack of trust,” said Dr. Lyle Cain, an orthopedic surgeon with Andrews Sports Medicine. “What you see typically is unhappy players, number one. Because the players don’t trust the treatment that they’re getting. That’s a disaster. If the players feel like the athletic trainers are too much on the coaches’ side, or the doctors are too much on the coaches’ side or the team side, I think you totally lose trust in the system. They don’t get well as quickly. They don’t follow through on their plans for rehab, and it makes a difficult situation medically to deal with any kind of injury because the player really doesn’t trust what you’re telling them.”

Players may arrive with the idea that the medical staff are the ones who keep them from returning to the field. Allen, along with the team doctors and athletic trainers, are the ones who make that decision. But there’s also far more than that.

Allen and his staff are with players when they receive bad news. They’re the ones who translate medical diagnoses into a language that players and their families can understand. They have to communicate with the coaches and the strength and conditioning staff about what players can and cannot do.

Then they’re with players through their rehab. They communicate with doctors, specialists, families and players to keep them on track. Taping ankles is just the beginning. Allen and his team are known as one of the best in every area.

“I’ve been at Alabama almost 30 years and worked with some excellent athletic trainers, but Jeff’s overall package is just so unbelievable,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson, Alabama’s team physician.

It starts with those relationships. It’s built over time, on the training table before practice or in the rehab room. Robinson said the medical staff gathers before games to say a prayer that there won’t be any injuries.

“He loves on them, to be honest with you,” Robinson said. “He gives them a hug and puts his arm around them and talks to them.”

The medical team is more than just Allen, and more than just the athletic trainers. Robinson and the team physicians play a big role. Andrews Sports Medicine is one of the premier practices of its type anywhere, and it happens to be just down the road.

But Allen is the one who oversees it all as the head athletic trainer for the football team.

“I’ve told my other doctors that I work with and the other people around that I think there are several people important to the University of Alabama program,” Cain said. “Obviously Coach (Nick) Saban is at the top of the list. But I think Jeff Allen is probably in the top two or three. There is no coach, administrator, doctor or anybody else in the program that’s as important in terms of what happens through the season, what happens in the offseason, what happens with the players from a perception and happiness standpoint as Jeff Allen.”

Allen and the medical staff have been especially vital to Alabama this season. The Crimson Tide watched four of its top linebackers go down to injury in the season opener against Florida State. Outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings had surgery for an ankle injury and played three weeks later against Vanderbilt. Inside linebacker Rashaan Evans made a return from a groin injury in that game, too.

Outside linebackers Christian Miller (biceps) and Terrell Lewis (elbow) were also hurt in the opener and expected to miss the rest of the season. Inside linebacker Mack Wilson (foot) was injured in the LSU game, but missed just one game and played in the Iron Bowl.

“I don’t know that we’ve had more (injuries this season),” Allen said. “We’ve had more to one position. That’s the problem. Usually they’re spread out among the whole team and you can kind of absorb them. When you have that many to one position, that’s really hard to manage.”

Even when Miller and Lewis were declared out for the season, Allen and his team went to work and tried to find new ways to help players return to the field sooner.

“We modify different braces or create braces or make braces that prevent that structure from being reinjured. Like the elbow braces that Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis are wearing,” Robinson said. “Mack has a special orthotic in his shoe that’s custom-made for him that protects that bone from having too much stress on it. Things like that are invaluable.”

If Alabama can win a championship with those linebackers back on the field, it won’t be the first time Allen and the medical staff have helped put the Crimson Tide over the top.

They also had a key role in the 2015 championship. Senior running back Kenyan Drake broke his arm against Mississippi State on Nov. 14 of that year.

Before Drake had even left the field, he and Allen were talking about his timetable to return. Drake declared that night that he’d be back for the SEC championship game – and he was.

“I don’t think there’s any question that between him and Dr. Cain, they’re able to get these athletes back faster but also safer than most programs,” Robinson said.

Cain operated on Drake as soon as possible. Allen had a carbon fiber brace 3D-printed with the help of Alabama’s engineering department for Drake to wear. He had a machine that he wore on his arm while sleeping to help his treatment. He was in the training room to rehab whenever he could be.

Drake caught a pass on Alabama’s first play from scrimmage in the SEC title game. He swung to the left side, moving the ball into his healthy arm. He used his right arm – broken less than a month before – to stiff-arm a defender. He didn’t even realize it until he was back on the sideline and Allen asked him how it felt.

“They did all they could to help me get back, working with the engineering program, getting a carbon fiber copy of my arm and putting the whole cast around it,” Drake said. “It was a real team effort and I appreciate everything they did for me.”

The real dividend came a month later in Phoenix. Drake returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown against Clemson in the fourth quarter of the national championship game.

“It would have been really easy with Kenyan to put him in a cast and say, ‘Hey, good luck to you. You’ll get better in 8-10 weeks and you can start trying to come back.’ That cast probably would have cost $15,” Allen said. “Dr. Cain took him the next day and did a very aggressive procedure, put a plate over the fractured forearm, we put him on a bone stimulator, started doing aggressive rehab. Stuff that’s incredibly expensive, but I think the return on the investment was pretty good.

“If we don’t have him in that national championship game, I don’t know if we win it. I really don’t. I don’t know if we win the game.”

Allen has a mural in his office of Drake diving across the goal line on that play. He’s holding the ball in his right arm: the arm that was broken.

That comeback was made possible not just by the aggressive treatment, dedicated rehab and top-of-the-line medical care. It also happened thanks to the relationship Drake had with the athletic training staff.

He’d dealt with a major injury the year before when he broke an ankle and was out for the season. Allen and the medical team helped him come back from that. He knew he could trust them.

“Obviously, when you’re hurt, it’s a way deeper relationship than just getting your ankles taped,” Drake said. “It wasn’t strange when I had to go through the rehab because you’re already familiar.”

As much as anything else, that’s what sets Alabama’s medical staff apart.

“I think in a lot of places, he would not have been on the field,” Cain said. “But I think he was (able to return) primarily because of his confidence in the athletic training staff and the rehab and the process that he had already experienced. His mentality was totally different than it would be at most places.”

After the game, there was a moment when Drake, Allen and Cain embraced. Allen said it was the “most special moment” he’s experienced in college athletics. The relationship remains, even after Drake’s college career ended that night.

“When I go to campus, one of the first stops I make is the training room,” Drake said.

He’s not the only one. Washington Redskins defensive end Jonathan Allen stopped by earlier this season after an injury likely ended his rookie year. The offseason sees “a flood” of former players coming in and out: Eddie Lacy, Eddie Jackson, AJ McCarron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley were just a few who came through.

Cain said that many former Alabama players who have gone on to the NFL will call Allen for advice when they’re injured. They trust that he’ll have their best interest in mind.

“They want to keep players on the field,” Drake said. “That’s what they do. That’s what they do best. I don’t think anybody else in college football or anybody in the world does a better job than Alabama.”

Jeff Allen’s concern for players is also on display with the sideline medical tent the Crimson Tide has used since the 2015 season. Allen developed the tent with a pair of Alabama engineering students, and the concept spread around the country. The tent sells for $5,000.

The tent gives the athletic trainers and doctors a modicum of privacy on the sideline to examine players. If there’s bad news, the players can hear about it without the world knowing.

“We’ve had games with a camera right over top of us,” Allen said. “It’s crazy. It’s very hard to get a good evaluation. It’s obviously very taxing on the kid. We did it with the idea of privacy in mind and knowing it would help from a privacy standpoint. What I didn’t really fully appreciate until now, is how much more relaxed we all are in there. Thus, the evaluation is better. I feel like we’re getting a much better medical evaluation simply because we take away all the distractions that are so prominent on a sideline.”

It was a simple fix to a problem that had existed for years for men and women in Allen’s position. He just happened to be the first one to think of it.

That’s what Allen has always been after: an innovative solution. It puts the players first. It improves medical care.

Earlier this year, Allen was walking into Alabama’s practice when someone asked how sales of his new invention were doing.

“Still taping ankles,” he said, smiling.

Then he walked into practice.

Reach Ben Jones at or 205-722-0196.

#AT4ALLSecondary SchoolSudden Cardiac Death

Athletic trainer hailed as hero for saving North Las Vegas student’s life


Article reposted from Las Vegas Review-Journal
Author: Art Marroquin

Chely Arias is already considered a hero just two months into her first job as a high school athletic trainer.

The North Las Vegas Fire Department credited Arias with saving a 17-year-old high school senior who collapsed Oct. 24 while warming up for a flag-football practice at Cheyenne High School.

“Her life was literally in my hands, and that’s a unique feeling to have,” Arias said shortly after a brief recognition ceremony held Wednesday in the school library. “Once you experience something like that, it changes your life.”

Arias couldn’t find a pulse when she aided Kennedi Jones just after 1:30 p.m. that day. The teen had stopped breathing and was unresponsive, prompting Arias to start CPR.

A flag football coach called 911 while a student retrieved one of the school’s three portable defibrillators from the gym.

Arias placed the automated external defibrillator pads on Jones’ chest, hoping an electrical shock would revive her. After three attempts, Jones finally had a pulse.

“It was devastating to walk up and see what was taking place at the time,” said Kimberly Jones, who arrived to watch Arias work on her daughter before paramedics arrived.

“As a mom, you never want to come to a scene and see things happen at that magnitude,” Kimberly Jones said. “She didn’t stop, she stayed focused and she was well-trained for this occasion.”

Jones was taken to University Medical Center, where she spent nearly two weeks in recovery. Like most teens, she just wanted to eat, walk around and go home. The teen said she didn’t have any previous medical problems and was enjoying her second year as a middle linebacker for the school’s intramural flag football team.

“I’m thankful because I could’ve died,” Jones quietly said. “She knew what she was doing. She saved my life.”

While presenting Arias with an accommodation plaque, North Las Vegas Fire Chief Joseph Calhoun said the athletic trainer’s effort demonstrated the need for more people to learn CPR and how to operate AED devices.

“Your actions and your quick thinking did an incredible thing,” Calhoun said. “It saved a young woman’s life for her to be able to grow up and become an adult and live a normal and happy life.”

Contact Art Marroquin at or 702-383-0336. Follow @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.


#AT4ALLCollege and University

Huskies to wear sport safety helmet stickers during Apple Cup


Article reposted from The Seattle Times

Nationwide, 37 percent of high schools in the United States have at least one full-time athletic trainer to monitor sports programs, according to a 2015 study by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“If you think about that, that’s really low,” said Rob Scheidegger, the University of Washington head football trainer.

During Saturday’s Apple Cup, the Huskies will wear stickers on the back of their gold helmets to raise awareness for safety in youth and high-school football — and athletic trainers’ roles in promoting and maintaining safe standards. It’s part of the Washington State Athletic Trainers’ Association’s safety in football campaign.

“We’re hoping parents of kids who are participating in those programs see those stickers and ask what it’s all about,” Scheidegger said. “We talk so much about how dangerous football is, but there so much good from football too. The safety (questions have) sort of put our sport at risk a little bit. There’s a lot of people who look at football and aren’t going to let their kid play. But, really, football is as safe as it’s ever been … and athletic trainers are a key part of that.

“So we want people asking questions about the sports programs they’re letting their kids participate in: Do we have an athletic trainer? And if we don’t, why not? Do we have an emergency-action plan? And if we don’t, why not? That’s what we’re hoping for, to raise awareness about those things.”

The UW employs four certified athletic trainers just for the football team. There are 11 other trainers for the Huskies’ other sports teams, a fairly standard number for major-college athletic departments.

“Our student-athletes here are super lucky,” Scheidegger said. “We have such a great administration. Jen Cohen and her staff put such an emphasis on student-athlete health and safety and put a big invested heavily as far as equipment.”

It’s a different story at youth levels.

Washington state, Scheidegger said, is “pretty progress” when it comes to having athletic trainers in high schools, but many of those trainers are employed part-time — meaning some are only in attendance at football or basketball games. In reality, he said, 60 to 70 percent of injuries occur during practices, and there aren’t always trainers there to assist.

“Yeah, it’s great to have someone there in your program who can create an emergency-action plan, who can educate student-athletes and talk to coaches,” he said. “But, really, the gold standard should be having full-time athletic trainers.”

#AT4ALLSecondary School

California’s crisis with athletic trainers: High school athletes are at risk


Article reposted from The Orange County Register

Javier Venegas, a 21-year-old distance runner for Golden West College, suddenly collapsed on the track one afternoon in late January.

He wasn’t breathing. He didn’t have a pulse.

Fortunately, Pat Frohn, a certified athletic trainer for Golden West, plus a Long Beach State athletic-training student, Tori Mulitauaopele, were in the Athletic Training Room and were called out to the track. They began CPR. It took two shocks from the automated external defibrillator (AED) to return Javier’s heartbeat.

From left, Pat Frohnn and Tori Mulitauaopele recount how they used CPR to save a life on the track at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
From left, Pat Frohnn and Tori Mulitauaopele recount how they used CPR to save a life on the track at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

The EMTs arrived and Venegas was rushed to the emergency room, where he was put into a medically induced coma. He is now recovered from what was determined to be a heart arrhythmia.

“If I wasn’t here, if there was no athletic trainer on staff, if this was any high school in the area?” Frohn said, “Javier would be dead.”

California has more than 800,000 high-schoolers playing sports, yet the state does not require schools to have athletic trainers at practices or games—and very few do. Just 25 percent of public high schools employ a full-time athletic trainer, according to CIF data from 2016-17 (athletic directors from 1,406 schools self-reported—an 88.6 percent rate).

Even more troubling? California is the only state that does not regulate the profession of athletic training. That means that anyone can call themselves an athletic trainer, regardless of whether they are certified; regardless of whether they possess the educational qualifications, clinical experience or medical knowledge to practice.

This puts student-athletes at enormous risk. Among those working as athletic trainers in California high schools, 16.2 percent are not certified, according to CIF data.

“It’s a level of fraud,” said Brian Gallagher, director of sports medicine/certified athletic trainer at Harvard Westlake.

The CATA has been working on this issue for more than three decades. California Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills) has introduced Assembly Bill 1510, which would provide for the licensure and regulation of athletic trainers and establish the Athletic Trainer Licensing Committee within the California Board of Occupational Therapy. It would bar a person from practicing as an athletic trainer or using the title unless the person is licensed by the committee.

The bill is scheduled to be heard next at the California State Assembly and Senate at the beginning of 2018.

We’ve reached a tipping point. Or something worse: “It’s a crisis,” said Trenton Cornelius, coordinator for L.A. Unified School District’s Interscholastic Athletics Department.


Michael Boafo, a Redlands High football player, suffered a hit in a 2015 game against A.B. Miller High in Fontana.

Heather Harvey, a certified athletic trainer for Miller at the game, said Redlands’ athletic trainer called her over to help him with calling EMS for Boafo. She sprinted over and felt stunned, alleging that neither the athletic trainer nor other staff were monitoring Boafo’s vitals or checking his pulse as he laid face up on the sideline, unconscious.

“Is he breathing?” Harvey asked. She said she was assured that Boafo was “fine” and was simply experiencing “flu-like symptoms.”

Harvey took over care by assessing his vitals and level of consciousness while activating EMS. It seemed apparent to her and her team physician that this was more than Boafo simply being sick. While on the sidelines, Harvey said it was mentioned that Boafo had suffered a concussion earlier that season. Harvey was able to effectively monitor Boafo until paramedics arrived.

Later that night, Boafo ultimately underwent a five-hour brain surgery to address a bleed in his brain (the surgery was successful and he was able to make a full recovery). Harvey said Redlands’ athletic trainer did not know proper protocol.

The athletic trainer, still at Redlands, is not certified, according to the online registry of Board of Certification Certified Athletic Trainers.

“That was mismanaged,” Harvey said. “I hate seeing it and unfortunately, I see things like that on a regular basis at this point. Not necessarily the catastrophic injuries, but just knowing the people on the sideline might not be appropriate medical personnel.”

How many parents assume the athletic trainers in charge of their child’s safety are qualified to oversee his or her care?

Some athletic directors might not even be aware if their athletic trainer is certified or not, according to Mike Chisar, chair of the CATA Governmental Affairs Committee. “There’s nothing that mandates (certification) as part of the hiring criteria, the minimum qualifications, then (athletic directors) wouldn’t necessarily be looking for that,” Chisar said.

Sometimes well-meaning parents and volunteers assume the role, as do coaches, who are CPR and First Aid certified and must take a sport-specific concussion course and sudden cardiac arrest training. But these are not healthcare providers.

Imagine if Celtics coach Brad Stevens was tasked with tending to Gordon Hayward’s gruesome ankle injury on NBA opening day.

“You can’t cut someone’s hair in our state if you don’t have a professional license and qualifications,” Dababneh said. “We are much more stringent on someone that cuts your hair then someone that can make a decision about your kid’s health in an athletic competition, whether or not he can go back in the game, whether he needs medical treatment.”

Opposition for the bill mainly comes from the California Physical Therapy Association.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bills in 2014 and 2015 that would have required athletic trainers to be certified, reasoning the bills would require athletic trainers to attend college, which would “impose unnecessary burdens on athletic trainers without sufficient evidence that they are really needed.”


To understand why athletic trainers are needed, you have to understand who they are and what they do.

Athletic trainers are healthcare providers who focus on the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. They are not gym trainers or physical therapists or chiropractors.

“Most of us hold Masters degrees and have spent countless hours in clinical settings honing our craft,” said Kirsten Farrell, certified athletic trainer at Venice High School and 2018 California Teacher of the Year.

The CIF, which supports AB1510, is working to educate principals, superintendents and athletic directors on the importance of having athletic trainers. “We’ve got to make it a priority for our schools,” said Roger Blake, CIF’s Executive Director. “They need to see the human value in this.”

Injuries, concussions, heat stroke, cardiac arrest, can happen at any second and immediate response is critical.

Sierra Canyon faced Buena High in a junior-varsity football game on Aug. 31. Buena did not have an athletic trainer when one of its players went down with a hit. Fortunately Eric Dick, Sierra Canyon’s certified athletic trainer, was on site.

Dick asked the player if he had a headache or felt dizzy or nauseous. The player smiled but wasn’t responding. Dick told the player and his father to not wait, and walked them to their car. Dick asked the player to read the word “SCAN” on the stereo. He couldn’t formulate the words, mumbling and struggling. Eventually he got the words out, but it took far too long. Dick said they should go to the hospital immediately.

“The continual follow up over that time period, was only about five minutes. In those five minutes, he took such a big change in his behavior,” said Dick, who mentioned the importance of having an athletic trainer to make decisions about when it is safe for an athlete to return to play, as those decisions have long-lasting health consequences.

Dick works at a private school — but what about public schools?

LAUSD is a large district of 150 schools and more than 52,000 athletes and comprises the L.A. City Section. Yet only 13 percent of schools of schools that reported in this Section have athletic trainers.

Some are funded by non-profits, such as the West Coast Sports Medicine Foundation or Team Heal Foundation. Alex Merriman, Dorsey High’s certified athletic trainer, is one of them.

She oversees the Dons’ 23 teams on her own, though she has student athletic-training aides to help out. She works 60 hours on what she calls a “good” week and 70-75 hours on a “bad” week (one that involves more injuries and treatment). As devoted as she is, she cannot make every single game, especially with two to three sports going on during one season.

“You have to be really passionate about what you do in this field,” Merriman said. “There are plenty of days where I want to quit and give up and find another job somewhere else, but I remember all the kids that we care for here. What would they be doing if I wasn’t here?”

CIF data indicates that both public and private suffer from a shortage of athletic trainers. However, some of the lower socioeconomic sections (Oakland, L.A. City, Northern) report only 9 to 13 percent of schools having a certified athletic trainer. More affluent sections (San Diego, Southern, San Francisco) report having the largest percentage of schools having an athletic trainer at 60 to 77 percent.

What will it take for students to be protected?

“I don’t want this to become a reactionary story where, God forbid, another student is injured or hurt badly or their health is compromised,” Dababneh said. “Then everybody says: ‘Well why didn’t we do this already?’”

CIF data from 2016-17 (athletic directors from 1,406 schools self-reported — an 88.6 percent rate)

Secondary School

Ohio Athletic Trainer Works Tirelessly During Games


Article reposted from The Blade

Before an early October meeting between two winless high school football teams, Bowsher athletic trainer Meghan Gregoire wraps tape around wrists and ankles.

Before its game against Rogers, the Bowsher bench buzzed with anything from political debates to pop culture references. The Rebels also watched their opponents warm up, speculating about who would take over at quarterback for the Rams.

“I don’t care who it is,” one defensive lineman said. “I’m going to add him to my highlight reel.”

In the middle of the trash talk and miscellaneous conversation was Gregoire, now a student at the University of Toledo. She’s been with the Rebels’ athletic program since August and will stay until the end of next year, when she graduates with a master’s degree in exercise science.

Two minutes before kickoff, she anxiously stretched and paced. She gets nervous right before every game, after all the players are wrapped, stretched, and she’s met with the opposing team’s athletic trainer.

“No amount of training can prepare you for everything,” Gregoire said. “You can never be ready for every possibility.”

That’s not to say Gregoire doesn’t enjoy her job.

Gregoire trades barbs with the players, who she refers to as her “little brothers.” But there certainly are some responsibilities she finds less than ideal, such as stalking the sideline looking for players who are hurt but avoiding eye contact so that Gregoire doesn’t pull them from the game.

“It’s definitely important [to bond] because some of these kids, I wouldn’t know they were hurt unless I knew who they were,” Gregoire said. “A lot of times, they won’t come to you and tell you they’re hurt. It’s the way they act or the way they don’t act.

“You really just become part of the team. I honestly could tell you that they couldn’t get through a day without me.”

There’s also dealing with a player after an injury threatens his season. Gregoire understands the sensitivity to this process firsthand, as the former softball standout suffered a career-ending knee injury in high school. A doctor talked her through the grieving process, and he still remains her inspiration for her career choice.

Walter Windless, a junior defensive lineman who was sidelined all season by a torn meniscus, followed Gregoire along the sideline as she surveyed the field for injured players. They shared a brutal conversation in August about being unable to play this year, but she helped him through the grieving process.

“I kind of shut down because I just started to play more,” Windless said. “I thought I let down my team. She lifted me up as a player. I can’t wait to have her back next year, hopefully to some better results.”

College and University

Behind the scenes look at process of Ohio State athletic trainer Behind the scenes look at process of Ohio State athletic trainer


Article reposted from The Lantern

Injuries go hand in hand with athletics.

Athletes in all sports have to constantly manage them, even if not recovering from injuries, taking the necessary steps to prevent injuries from taking place.

Therefore, in order to fully understand sports at Ohio State, it is important to consider the health of the athletes and the people in charge of ensuring an athlete’s safety. Athletic trainers are an ostensibly underappreciated yet critical component to the Ohio State Department of Athletics.

Currently, Ohio State staffs approximately 19 athletic trainers, eight interns and two physical therapists. There are also 10 team physicians, four sports medicine fellows, four nutritionists,  several sports psychologists, a dentist and a pharmacist, all of whom collaborate with the athletic trainers.

Throughout each season for the sports, an athletic trainer will constantly need to be on site, whether it be at practice or during a game, to be there should something go wrong.

Katie Walker, an athletic trainer who specializes in tennis and women’s soccer, stressed just how different the experience is for every trainer based on the injury-risk of the sport.

“Soccer, obviously, is a higher-risk sport, from an acute contact injury standpoint,” Walker said. “So with soccer I’m really dialed into what’s going on in the play; people going up for headers, sliding into people.”

Walker added that keying in and evaluating an athlete’s current condition while simultaneously judging how an injury impacts the athlete’s play is a necessary skill for an athletic trainer. For example, tennis players would be assessed on their form and their swinging technique in order to see how an injury might be affecting performance.

In fact, the process of guiding an athlete through an injury is one of the primary  responsibilities  for any athletic trainer.

“Once you start to know your athletes and know their personalities and have treated them through so many injuries, it just becomes fun to watch people you know and to watch people who you helped get back on the court or back on the soccer field,” Walker said. “And that’s really where the enjoyment for athletic training comes from.”

Walker said there are multiple steps to addressing an injury during a game. The first action the protocol calls for is evaluating if the injury is major or is a high-risk type of injury.

If the injured player is physically capable of moving himself or herself to the sideline, the trainer will move the athlete to the sideline and further evaluate the injury with the available team physician. Treatment such as ice or taping then might be applied on the field to reduce recovery time.

After the game, more in-depth treatment like crutches or walking boots would be applied in the athletic training facilities. Documentation is the final step, as all athletic trainers must report any sort of injury into their computer medical database.

Preventing injuries is another key component to an athletic trainer’s arsenal. The term “prehab” is used among athletic trainers  to describe preventing future injuries with players who are currently rehabbing.

Walker said prehab consists of working with strength and conditioning coaches to incorporate exercises that focus on building muscle in areas with high-risk injuries, such as ACLs and shoulders.

Athletic training also relies heavily on being updated with equipment and technology. Like any medical field, having the best techniques and technology allows for quicker recovery and eases an athletic trainer’s job.

Women’s soccer uses Polar Team Pro heart rate and GPS monitors in order to track cardiovascular and muscle stress.  Another technology utilized is Omegawave, which is a system of electrodes that calculate changes in heart rate, which aids with recovery. Omegawave can also highlight any cardiovascular discrepancies that might impact an athlete’s ability to play.

Other techniques and equipment are vastly improving and the idea of unique improvements to the athletic training field is being constantly recognized every year.

The concept of athletic training is much more than simply concussion protocols and taping ankles. Although they might not be starring in any of the hype videos or postgame interviews, the athletic training staff are essential for keeping Ohio State’s athletes continually performing at high levels.

College and University



Article reposted from The Villager

tevenson University has 27 athletic teams that compete in the NCAA, with six athletic trainers divided among these teams. Each team has one athletic trainer assigned to work with them.

Connor Trainor (in green) examines student Morgan Cary during the women’s soccer match. (Photo by Sabina Moran)







All athletic trainers at Stevenson have their bachelor’s or master’s degree in athletic training and are certified ATC in the field.

One of the six athletic trainers at Stevenson is Conor Trainor, who earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training at Towson University and a master’s from Temple University. While in graduate school, Trainor gained experience as the graduate assistant for club sports at Drexel University. Just like most athletic trainers, Trainor chose to become one because he likes to work with college athletes; “They [athletes] want to get better and get back into the game as soon as possible,” he said.

Trainor has been an athletic trainer at Stevenson for three years. He works directly with men’s ice hockey, women’s soccer, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, and golf. All of the athletic trainers at Stevenson work with more than one athletic team, usually in different seasons.

“If I have two teams that overlap in a season, then I have to help the team that has the higher injuries and is the higher contact sport,” he explained.

The athletic trainers have a different schedules based on the athletic team with whom they are working. Athletic trainers are always in the training room an hour before a team’s practice so that athletes are able to roll out their muscles, get taped or get physical therapy.  On a day that a team has a game, the schedule is different. They would arrive earlier to set up for their own players and for visiting teams, including water jugs and medical equipment for the players. Athletic trainers are also required to travel with the team for road games.

“A trainer’s job is to keep the athletes healthy and on the field,” said Trainor. The athletic trainers teach athletes techniques to stay healthy, such as stretches and other patient care.

Athletic trainers not only determine injuries, but they help to rehabilitate students.

Kellen Wittman, a senior on the woman’s soccer team, suffered from a torn ACL injury last season,  and explained, “They encouraged and pushed me to my limits everyday so I could be back to 100 percent. All of our athletes wouldn’t be where they’re at today, without the dedication they [athletic trainers] put in day in and day out.”

Secondary School

Kristin Vieira is Keeping Athletes Safe and Healthy


Article reposted from Calaveras Enterprise
Author: Guy Dossi

Kristin Vieira has seen more football games than most head coaches. For the past 14 years, Vieira has been on the sidelines nearly every fall Friday night. And while she has never called a play or come up with a defensive scheme, Vieira can change the outcome of a game with a single diagnosis.

Vieira is the head athletic trainer at Bret Harte High School and she is the one responsible for making sure the athletes are healthy enough to play, as well as attempting to fix them when they are hurt.

“I have the mentality of letting the coach coach, the refs ref and the trainers train,” Vieira said. “I’m just there to do medical and make sure they stay safe and healthy. That’s my main focus. I pick them up when they are broken and nurse them back to health.”

She’s keeping athletes safe and healthy
Kristin Vieira tapes up quarterback Ryan Kraft.

Vieira, who is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and also a nationally registered paramedic, made the decision to enter the field of sports medicine when she was 20 years old and attending California Polytechnic State University. She later transferred to California State University, East Bay, and later participated in a sports medicine internship at Diablo Valley College.

Vieira, who grew up in Hayward, was originally looking to go into pre-med orthopedic surgery, but the more time she spent in the athletic training room with some of her kinesiology classes, the more she realized she belonged on the sidelines.

“I really liked the hands-on aspect of working directly with the athletes at the time they got injured,” Vieira said. “I get to fix them and have a part in that. So, I like dealing with the immediate injury and figuring out what’s going on. I really liked the athletic training aspect of the sports medicine umbrella.”

A fateful day

Even though it has been 15 years, Vieira will never forget Aug. 19, 2002. It was her first day of her senior year of college and it was also the first day of contact football practice at Diablo Valley College. Vieira, who wasn’t an official athletic trainer yet, was at practice performing some of what would be her daily duties when out of nowhere, a 19-year-old player collapsed on the field.

Vieira, along with a first-year athletic training student, were the first to reach the player. The player told them that he had been hit a couple of times, but it was clear to Vieira that his condition was rapidly deteriorating. She summoned the head athletic trainers and CPR was immediately started.

She’s keeping athletes safe and healthy
Kristin Vieira checks the knee of a Bret Harte player before practice.

Enterprise photo by Guy Dossi

The player was taken to a nearby hospital, where he subsequently died of what was believed to have been a brain stem hemorrhage. However, the autopsy came back inconclusive.

“That’s the one that has always stuck with me,” Vieira said. “Even though it’s been 15 years, every time I step out onto this turf, it’s always in a corner of my mind. It was one of those situations that totally could have broken me and it almost did. Instead of letting it break me, I took it as my drive to make sure that I do the best that I can do and make sure these guys are safe and taken care of.”

All on her own

In 2003, Vieira was named the head athletic trainer of the Summerville High School junior varsity football team. She was only 24 and was responsible for a team of 30. Vieira was ready to prove that she could handle the situation and perhaps was a bit too eager to convince not only herself, but the Summerville players and coaches that she belonged.

“I was actually kind of cocky, because I was fresh out of college,” Vieira said. “I had the, ‘I know it all,’ attitude. Now I’m a little more humble and actually rely on my peers to come up with answers and to help me.”

She’s keeping athletes safe and healthy
Applying ice is something that Kristin Vieira does every day.

Enterprise photo by Guy Dossi

Vieira enjoyed her time working in Tuolumne County, but kept her eyes and ears open to anything available in her new hometown of Angels Camp. It wasn’t long until former Bret Harte head football coach Gordon Sadler Sr. got ahold of Vieira and made an offer that she couldn’t refuse.

“Gordon Sadler Sr., whom I called ‘Papa Sadler,’ said to me, ‘We need you. I want an athletic trainer and I want you to do the job.’ So, I said, ‘OK,’” Vieira said.

Since then, Vieira has spent the past 12 years on the Bret Harte sidelines. And in that time she has worked for four different head coaches. From Sadler to Scott Edwards and Jon Byrnes to current head coach Casey Kester, the one constant has been Vieira.

“I’d like to think that I have a good rapport with the kids,” Vieira said of what she believes is a reason for her longevity with the Bullfrogs. “I feel that I have a good rapport with the coaching staff and the administration here on campus.”

But one thing that Vieira hasn’t been able to fix is Bret Harte’s record. In 12 years, she has been involved with only one winning team and seen two playoff games. She has seen the good along with the absolute worst of Bret Harte football.

“It is hard for me because I do see the heartbreak in their eyes, especially if it’s a game where they played their hearts out,” Vieira said.

An absolute necessity

Having a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines and at practice is a valuable asset to any football team. However, it is currently not required in California. Often, coaches are responsible for taking care of the health of their players when that goes above their area of expertise.

“Coaches are not qualified, nor do they want the responsibility or liability of making medical decisions for their athletes,” Vieira said. “They feel way more comfortable having it put in the hands of a trained professional. I think the coaches realize that it’s a good thing to have around.”


She’s keeping athletes safe and healthy
Kristen Vieira and Bret Harte head coach Casey Kester talk about the health of the players while at practice in Angels Camp.

Enterprise photo by Guy Dossi

Coaches aren’t the only ones happy that Vieira is around. The players have no problem going to her with questions and concerns regarding any bump, bruise, sprain or stiff muscle. And while some parents and coaches might not get the full answer from the athletes regarding injuries, Vieira has been around long enough to figure out exactly what is wrong.

“If they are not giving me straight answers or I’m not getting a good read of what’s going on, that’s actually the part of my job that I love the best,” Vieira said. “Because then I have to kick my brain into high gear and try to figure out what it could be. I try to piece things together from square one.”

There is nothing that Vieira hasn’t seen and nothing that she hasn’t heard from players. While some injuries are serious and need further medical attention, others can be fixed with something as simple as ice and rest. One of the biggest parts of Vieira’s job is helping the players recognize the difference between being hurt and being injured.

After 14 years on the job, Vieira has become fairly skilled at sniffing out real injuries among players who believe they are hurt more than they actually are.

“We’ve had kids where you think that they are dying out on the field and that I’m going to have the ambulance come out and haul them off, all because of the production that they are making,” Vieira said. “Then they end up being fine.”

A future on the sidelines

Vieira is a mother of three young boys. Her oldest is 8, the middle son is 4 and she has a 7-month-old son. So when the question arose regarding whether she would allow her own children play football, Vieira had an answer ready in her back pocket.


She’s keeping athletes safe and healthy
Kristin Vieira has wrapped thousands of ankles in her career.

Enterprise photo by Guy Dossi

“My oldest is playing flag football and I’m fine with him doing that,” she said. “I have no problem with them playing football, if that’s what they want to do. However, my only rule is that I will not allow them to start playing tackle football until they are in eighth grade. Mainly, I want to make sure their bodies have more time to adequately develop without getting repetitive hits.”

So what happens when they suit up and begin playing tackle football?

“When they do start playing, I’ll have to retire,” laughed Vieira.

But until then, Vieira hopes to remain on the Bret Harte sidelines. And as long as she is there, win, lose or draw, the Bullfrogs will remain in good hands