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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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
During the fall, Megan Hardy usually works between 14 and 16 hours on Thursdays and Fridays.
There are a couple breaks to sneak in lunch and dinner, but for the most part the West Brunswick athletic trainer is busy either teaching classes or preparing for a football game.
“They are long days, especially because I’m at school all day as a teacher,” said Hardy, who is in her 15th year with the Trojans.
While a lot of her work is done behind the scenes and not noticed by fans, it is appreciated by the coaching staff and players.
“To me, one of the most important positions on your staff is your trainer,” West Brunswick athletic director and former football coach Jimmy Fletcher said. “Megan is one of the only other people that is here as much as me, and I wouldn’t do this job without her.”
Testing for injuries
AREA ATHLETIC TRAINERS
Ashley: Sadie Thomas
Hoggard: Alex McDaniel
Laney: Pamela Hughes
New Hanover: Matt Triche
North Brunswick: Jennifer Walker
South Brunswick: Amanda Buckey
West Brunswick: Megan Hardy
Pender County schools: Use first responders
With players becoming stronger and faster, injuries are becoming more prevalent in the sport. Concussions have become a big topic of discussion over the past decade, especially at the youth and high school levels.
Prior to beginning practice, the N.C. High School Athletic Association mandates that every athlete must have a current physical and a concussion form signed by the student-athlete and their parent on file.
Each athletic trainer screens a possible concussion differently, but they are all looking for the same signs and symptoms.
“What I think helps the most for me is falling back on my clinical skills and also staying up to date on the most evidence-based practice,” said Hoggard athletic trainer Alex McDaniel. “There are a few articles that were put out by some clinical studies that were done in the NFL and the NCAA in the last few years that really nail down sideline assessment.”
If McDaniel suspects a player has a concussion, he puts them through an entire clinical evaluation on the sideline. The process usually last about five minutes.
“With motor function and sensory function of the upper body, we can determine their cranial nerves and see how intact they are,” McDaniel said. “Aside from cranial nerves, we do a test that is very similar to a DUI test called Romberg. It’s a set of balance and hand-eye coordination skills. After that, we do a memory cognitive skill test.”
McDaniel also adds a fourth test to assess the state of the player’s cervical spine nervous system.
If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, they must be free of all symptoms before beginning a gradual Return-to-Play progression, which has six stages that must be completed on different calendar days.
Taking caution Most of the injuries athletic trainers deal with on a day-to-day basis and during games aren’t as severe as concussions.
Hardy treats a lot of cramping during the beginning of the season when the temperatures are still warm and the practices switch from mornings or evenings to right after school.
“It’s hard to simulate game tempo in practice,” Hardy said. “Our kids can get water whenever they want at practice, whereas in a game we can’t just stop in the middle of a long drive and send them over for water because they are thirsty.”
Ankles and knees tend to be the most common lower body injuries, especially during games when players are falling on top of each other during tackles.
The risk of putting an injured player back into the game and causing more extensive damage is something all athletic trainers deal with. It’s why the relations between them, the coaching staff and players is so important.
“The good thing of our coaches is that they really trust what I say,” McDaniel said. “Whenever I see an athlete with an injury, not only do I follow and adhere to our national standards and protocols, but I adhere to what best practice is as far as health care is concern. I do all types of functional return to play tests.”
“My coaches are really good to work with. They don’t want to jeopardize a kid’s safety, because they know there is stuff beyond high school sports,” Hardy added. “It’s important for us to win every Friday, but it’s also important for them to be able to have families and not have a catastrophic injury to worry about.”
The first thing Colgate University did was purchase a sophisticated $14,000 machine that used ozone gas, not water or detergent, to disinfect all its athletes’ gear. An ice hockey player had come down with a staph infection, and Colgate, fearing the severe and sometimes fatal form of it known as MRSA, was not going to take any chances.
The university didn’t stop at gassing gear.
Out went the shared bars of soap in the Colgate showers. Water bottles were sterilized nightly. Athletes in contact sports got two or three sets of equipment so one set could always be sanitized. Even the university’s furry mascot costume was regularly blasted with ozone gas.
That was a decade ago, and Colgate, like many schools, is still fighting the germ. This year, among other measures, it unveiled plans for a cutting-edge system that would zap locker rooms with a decontaminating fog of hydrogen peroxide and silver to leave an anti-bacterial coating on every surface.
“It’s not weird anymore to implement these kinds of advanced tools because technology has really helped,” said Steve Chouinard, Colgate’s director of sports medicine and an athletic trainer. “We sprung into action, and you consider every possible way to keep the athletes safe.”
By the thousands, high schools, colleges and professional teams have followed Colgate’s path with aggressive, almost obsessive, steps to prevent MRSA outbreaks
And yet, the battle is not won. It has become a never-ending fight against a hidden foe that resists conventional antibiotics. And in the sports world, where the bacteria can flourish in crowded gyms and locker rooms, and amid frequent skin-to-skin contact on the playing field, there is not even a scoreboard to definitively keep track of who is winning.
The disease has disabled some athletes, cutting short their careers, and the most severe cases have been fatal. Ricky Lannetti, a Division III all-American wide receiver at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, died from a MRSA infection in 2003.
Two seasons ago the Giants tight end Daniel Fells contracted MRSA in his lower leg and spent several tense weeks in a hospital as doctors contemplated amputating one of his feet. Fells retired from football 10 months later. In 2013, three Tampa Bay Buccaneers came down with the infection — two never returned to the field.
Such cases have generated enough anxiety that teams have pulled out all the stops to eradicate the germ or to prevent it from settling in.
Although the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, reported a decrease in MRSA infections in the general public since 2005, it is difficult to tell what is happening in locker rooms because there has been no study specifically on sports. Anecdotally, based on the number of cases they have treated in recent years, athletic trainers and team doctors nationwide have insisted that MRSA cases in sports declined substantially in the last decade. But they, too, have no data.
Moreover, the movement to curb MRSA in athletics is butting heads with new behavioral trends — like some teenagers’ dogged aversions to showering after games and practices — that imperil the best preventive efforts.
Likewise, practices like body shaving, which has become more popular among young people and can cause tiny cuts that allow MRSA to propagate, have been shown to increase the risk of infection sixfold, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
Football, like any sport with frequent skin-to-skin contact, continues to be a breeding ground for the disease. Professional football players are seven to 10 times more likely than the general public to have MRSA bacteria on their skin, according to Duke University researchers.
“It is a job hazard present for people who play football,” said Dr. Deverick Anderson, a director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, which serves as a consultant to the N.F.L.
MRSA, the acronym for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was once mostly found in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings. About 20 years ago, it began afflicting athletes in contact sports.
Over time, hospitals and other medical facilities developed more stringent hygiene routines that successfully reduced the prevalence of MRSA. It is these best practices that professional teams and athletic departments have spent the last decade emulating.
Sports teams, even at some high schools that have the necessary budget, tended to ramp up their preventive efforts with avant-garde measures.
In the N.F.L., the effort to curb MRSA now borders on a crusade, with an official prevention manual that is 315 pages long. There are meticulous protocols for dozens of procedures, right down to the approved method for refilling the anti-bacterial solution in hand-sanitizer dispensers, which are now omnipresent in locker and weight rooms. (Prepackaged containers are preferred to topping off the dispensers with a large jug — a process that can spread contamination.)
The best-intentioned and most sophisticated tactics, however, can be undone by the simplest omissions. At the high school and college levels, the downfall can be players who refuse to shower with teammates, which is common. A shower can greatly diminish the chance that exposure to MRSA in practice or in a game will lead to an infection.
“It’s like pulling teeth to get the athletes in the shower,” said Bernie Stento, an athletic trainer at Chesterton High School in Indiana. “Some kids are very squeamish about it. After practice, they’re sweaty and have dirt and mud on them. In football, they might have cuts, scrapes and abrasions. I say to them, ‘Guys, without a shower, we’re inviting infection.’
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“But just as a practice ends, I’ll be taking things off the field and see kids leaving already.”
It’s a phenomenon discussed often among coaches and trainers.
“It started 10 or 15 years ago, and now there are a lot of social stigmas with the shower in a school setting,” said Bart Peterson, the head athletic trainer at Palo Verde High Magnet School in Tucson. “I don’t know, maybe they don’t want the hazing. But it’s pervasive.”
At Colgate, which is in upstate New York, a fervent education program has changed habits.
Owen Buscaglia, a junior wide receiver at Colgate, said he and his friends in high school considered it weird to shower after practice.
“Now it’s weird if you don’t shower,” Buscaglia said.
Across the nation, the efforts to foster proper hygiene involve far more than shower routines. Some teams buy athletes their own water bottles to deter sharing.
To prevent teammates from sharing towels to wipe their faces or arms on the sideline, trainers have sometimes employed a small army of interns who scoop up any used towel so it can quickly be placed in the laundry. Jim Thornton, the athletic trainer at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, said his teams had begun using chemically treated towelettes that are about half the size of a standard towel and are discarded after each use.
The expense may be worthwhile. One study of high school football players concluded that sharing a towel makes the chance of a MRSA infection eight times more likely.
In wrestling, where the occurrence of skin disorders has been elevated for decades, many college and high school teams mandate frequent examinations for suspicious lesions. In all sports, the ubiquitous training tables, where athletes receive treatment, are now subject to regular, thorough disinfection. Athletes are required to shower before entering any kind of pool or tub used for therapy.
With athletic teams soiling hundreds of pounds of jerseys, T-shirts and padded equipment on a daily basis for sports like football, hockey and lacrosse, a cottage industry has sprung up to rid that gear of bacteria that might lead to a MRSA infection.
High-tech laundry systems — featuring programmable chemical disinfectant injections, high speed water extractors and synchronized cycles that assiduously monitor water levels and temperatures — have become commonplace. Ozone gas machines, like the Sport-O-Zone manufactured in Elkhart, Ind., can be found in equipment rooms from the N.F.L. to small public high schools.
Infectious disease experts are more likely to emphasize other elements of a comprehensive MRSA prevention program, but they do not spurn the emerging devices.
“I would think it would make a contribution to the reduction of staphylococcal infection in the athletic environment,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said of the ozone gas machines.
At Bowdoin College in Maine, Dan Davies, the athletic trainer, said the college had not had a MRSA case involving an athlete in the 10 years since it bought an ozone gas unit. That track record has motivated Bowdoin officials to consider installing a system that would fill the locker rooms and the training room inside the college’s new facility with ozone gas transmitted through the heating and air-conditioning ducts.
Overnight, custodians would lock the doors to the building serving Bowdoin’s football and lacrosse teams, then turn on the ozone gas. The facility is to open next year, and while the new system could add to the renovation cost, Bowdoin, like so many other institutions, may decide it is worth the price. The college once had a MRSA scare.
About 10 years ago, a Bowdoin athlete was unaware he had contracted MRSA, and with a contagious, open wound on his leg, he wandered around the campus — to the dining hall, the weight room, the locker room and the coaches’ offices.
“That gets your attention,” Davies said. “We said, ‘Oh, boy, we’ve got to sit down and make a game plan to fix this.’ We took the stance that we’ve got to push prevention to the forefront. And we haven’t turned back.”
Article reposted from KLTV7
Author: Brionna Rivers
Last night’s Carthage vs Henderson football game, took a dangerous turn when a 12-year-old Carthage player went into cardiac arrest during halftime. Athletic trainer Colby Barron, along with Henderson firefighters quickly administered care.
We immediately knew that something wasn’t good, the kid wasn’t breathing so we called 911 we sent for the AED,” says Barron. “We got the kid’s pads off and immediately put the AED on him and unfortunately it had to shock him, the fire captain began CPR and luckily you know the kid began to breathe on his own again.”
Barron says having the AED or Automated External Defibrillator on hand was a must in this situation.
“If we wouldn’t have had the AED last night we could have had a different outcome,” says Barron.
An AED recognizes an abnormal rhythm in the heart and then shocks the heart to get it back into rhythm. Henderson Fire Captain Mark Marsh says it’s a lifesaving tool.
“It’s an automated device and it’s a very simple device so not only first responders but anybody can use it,” says Marsh.
Carthage ISD says the injured student, who was flown from the field to Shreveport Medical Center had an enlarged heart — a pre-existing condition.
Most of the time you don’t know when there could be a pre-existing condition, there’s not really any test that they do to recognize those,” Says Barron. “They answer a questionnaire on their physical and check yes or no but you know that’s really the only thing that most people get done they don’t get an EKG they don’t get any heart test it’s not required to get those.”
Barron says the reason the tests aren’t required is probably due to the high cost but adds that the value of that information out ways the price.
Barron added that, “It could be beneficial if you can recognize one to two to three kids each year they may have a pre-existing condition and you save one life one would day the test is well worth it”
Carthage ISD says the student is still in the hospital in Shreveport where he will be held for a few days for testing. Depending on the results, he may be taken to a medical center in Dallas.
Article reposted from VailDaily
Author: Richard Williams
Richard Williams is an athletic trainer who recently joined the team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. He works both in the office and in surgery. It’s pretty cool that he has a Super Bowl ring from 2015. In this article, I asked Williams to describe life as an athletic trainer in the NFL.
Dr. Rick Cunningham
Football is back and for many people, it is an entertainment business that allows us to cheer on our favorite team each week. I had the privilege to work in the NFL as an athletic training student for two years and as a certified athletic trainer for a year.
“I hope that one day people will stop looking at athletic trainers as “water boys” and learn how much time and effort we put into the care of these athletes on a daily basis.”
This time of year reminds me of the hard work, dedication and time spent with those teams during training camp and moving forward into the season. I was lucky enough to work for two different NFL organizations, including the Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos.
The athletic training staff is only one component to the success of an NFL team, but it is a major part of helping athletes achieve maximum production from their bodies and ultimately keeping them on the field. The daily duties for an athletic trainer, as well as the hours they work, make the job difficult mentally and physically.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
Most people do not know what an athletic trainer’s job entails. Some people may see athletic trainers as “water boys” with the easiest job in the world, but in reality, athletic trainers do much more than make sure the athletes are well hydrated. Athletic trainers are responsible for treatment throughout the entire injury process for a player, from the time of injury to the athlete returning to play.
During my time in the NFL, I would typically get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and arrive at work around 4:45 a.m. to start treatments by 5:30 a.m. Treatments would consist of therapeutic modalities (i.e. ultrasound), joint mobilization techniques, soft tissue massage, stretching, aqua therapy, physical exercises and core strengthening.
Treatments would continue until the players would go to individual and team meetings. NFL players cannot perform at their highest level if they do not continue to take care of the bodies. After player meetings, there would be more treatment sessions before practice.
While players were attending meetings, myself and another athletic trainer would set up the field for practice. Before practice, athletic trainers would each lead 10-15 athletes through a thorough stretching program. During practice, athletic trainer duties included surveying the field for possible areas where the players were at higher risk of injury, hydration, immediate evaluation and treatment of player’s injuries, and helping the players or coaches whenever needed.
After practice, we would take medical equipment inside and begin further treatment sessions until the players went to additional meetings in the afternoon. After the players finished meetings, we would finish final treatments for the day. Training camp was always the most intense work schedule as we would have a walk-through practice and a full practice the same day. Our daily hours would be from 5:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.
I believe that the head athletic trainer of the Houston Texans, Geoff Kaplan, said it best when he was interviewed about being an athletic trainer in the NFL.
He said, “It’s a very attractive job because all people see is Sunday, from noon to 3. What people don’t see is my cell phone is on and I am on call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week during football season. We’re on call just like a doctor is on call. During the season, you work six months straight without a day off. Depending on if we’re traveling or not, we’re working between 80 and 90 hours a week. During training camp, we’re working 110 to 120 hours a week. The Sunday part is very attractive but you have to have a very understanding family to do the Monday through Saturday part.”
I am thankful for the opportunity I had to work in the NFL and although I made great friendships and relationships with amazing athletes, I am more thankful for the education I was able to obtain and the skills and techniques that I will use for the rest of my career.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the 2015 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos organization that made the long days and grueling season all worth it.
I hope that one day people will stop looking at athletic trainers as “water boys” and learn how much time and effort we put into the care of these athletes on a daily basis.
Richard Williams is an ATC and OTC to Dr. Richard Cunningham, M.D. Vail-Summit Orthopaedics. Williams received his undergraduate degree in athletic training from the University of Cincinnati. As an undergrad, he completed two seasonal internships with the Cincinnati Bengals. Upon graduation from the University of Cincinnati, Williams worked as a certified athletic trainer fellow for the Denver Broncos and went on to be a part of the Super Bowl 50 championship team. Williams is a board-certified orthopedic technologist and licensed surgical assistant. For more information, visit http://www.VailKnee.com.
Starting Friday nights, Simpson College students get ready for the night before game day. Non-athletes may be doing extracurricular activities around campus, and others may be going home but not the student athletic trainers.
“Friday night after practice, I usually go get dinner and go back to the room for the rest of the night,” said senior student athletic trainer Jordan Coughenour.
Starting Saturday morning, the students will come in around 10 a.m. to set up for treatments that start at 10:30 a.m.. Chris Fertal, head athletic trainer, and his staff come in early to the training room to set up for game days.
They set up the water for the team, fit the braces and also help the opposing team with any special needs they might have. Once the athletic trainers help the other team move in, they will do treatments for the Storm and make sure all the players are ready for warmups.
Once the players are ready for warmups, the training staff gets a little break before the game.
“Every week we like to get together as a group, and we put together a big lunch spread. Each student and staff member bring something different to eat, so we get to eat before the game starts,” Fertal said.
At halftime, all the trainers help the players with anything that may have happened during the first half. Hydration and retaping are main focuses for the staff during halftime.
After the game, the students and staff wait until all players are out of the locker room. They clean up the field as if no one has been there and then go home.
“It’s a hectic schedule, but I enjoy the business of it,” said graduate assistant athletic trainer Emily Manning. “I get here early in the morning, and I am here in the training room from 12-7 p.m. on an average day.”
There is good communication between the new coaching staff of the football team and the athletic training staff. There is a new energy from the head football coach, Matt Jeter, which has translated to the athletic training staff for the year.
“It will be pretty hectic around here until Thanksgiving break, and then the training hours will slow down for us,” Fertal said.
Having new students each year on the training staff comes with the different challenges of getting them trained and ready for the year. Most of the staff members are seniors this year and need training hours to fulfill the needed credit requirement to graduate.
Teachers within the athletic training major acknowledge the time the students put into the training hours they need, so they do not give as much homework as normal classes. This allows the students to keep up with their school work in their busy schedule.
Although they have hectic weekends, the athletic training staff keep Simpson athletics up and running to so each student can perform at their highest level.
With more knowledge than ever before on the impact of concussions on athletes, having fully qualified athletic trainers consistently on the field is in growing demand.
“We don’t want coaches having to make medical decisions,” said Tom Bartsokas, a sports medicine doctor leading the charge through Memorial Health System.
Four schools currently utilize the athletic trainer program offered through the health system, with a single trainer dedicated full-time to their students.
At Marietta High School it’s Madonna Buegel; Warren, it’s Arielle Baker; Waterford, Joslynn Trail; and Fort Frye it’s Brooke Daniell; all four serve on Bartsokas’ sports medicine team.
“It was a slow start at first since this school never had an athletic trainer before,” explained Daniell, 23, who lives just across the street from Fort Frye. “But after that first injury when the teams saw that student back on the field in less time and able to play well again, the kids started coming in to see me.”
The placement of a trainer on the field and at practice also offers greater piece of mind to athletic directors and coaches.
“In this day and age with the increased knowledge we have on concussions it’s an important piece of athletics to have that access to medical knowledge immediately,” said Rick Guimond,
athletic director of the Marietta City Schools District. “It provides an additional level of education to our kids.”
Guimond said assigning the athletic trainer to games of high-impact action like football and soccer take first priority, then those sports’ practices.
“But these services are available to all students within the district we serve, even band has access to what we offer,” said Bartsokas.
The program per school system costs $20,000 to put on, though not all districts are paying the full price just yet.
Frank Antill, treasurer for the Marietta City School District, said currently the high school is paying the same $11,000 price tag that was previously going to Ohio University to utilize a master’s athletic training student on a two-year rotation. Up the Muskingum River at Waterford High School the Wolf Creek Local School Board signed off on a $15,000 contract this past spring to be paid in half by the high school’s athletic boosters and half by the school district. Similar costs are assumed by the budgets of Fort Frye and Warren high schools’ athletics and boosters budgets.
“Right now Memorial is absorbing the remaining cost,” said Bartsokas. “We didn’t want to hit these schools with the full $20,000 price that they couldn’t afford out of the gate and not be able to provide our services.”
But Bartsokas sees the program growing over the years to become integrated into services provided by schools like speech pathology and counseling.
“Then those additional treatments can be billed directly to the parents’ insurances and I can see this becoming self-sustaining after a few years and maybe we could get rid of pay-to-play eventually,” said the doctor. “For now when the trainers are there at the practices and the games and during school giving treatments they all have access to me as well if they want me to look at test results or consult even if it’s a quick text.”
Madonna Buegel, 23, of New Matamoras, said she sees her role as three parts: preventative care, treatment and hopefully mentoring.
“I do a lot of preventative stuff here at the school too but if people want to think of it as someone who’s just waiting around for them to get hurt, then isn’t it better to have someone on hand that can immediately address that?”she said. “But because it’s also at the younger level these kids see me at the same level as their coaches or teachers and I want them to trust me that I want to get them back to playing and healthy just like they want to play.”
For senior soccer player Dakota Lee, 17, of Marietta, having Buegel on hand has been a blessing.
“She does amazing things for us and always makes sure we’re healthy and 100 percent ready for a game,” he said. “This is the second year I’ve had a trainer at every game and she can do all the tests on us right on the field and get us back to playing quickly instead of having to wait to even get in to see a doctor … we know what’s going on there (at the field).”
Eddie Knox, who grew up in Augusta, is the athletic trainer at Mountain View and in his second year as a teacher at Grayson. He got his degree at Valdosta State, during which time he worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during consecutive summers. As a senior, Knox accepted an intership at Sports Medicine South in Gwinnett and was later hired full-time.
In this installment of “Getting to Know …,” Knox talks with staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including growing up in a military family, bringing pro-level care to high school athletes and the one TV show he DVRs.
CT: Where did you grow up?
EK: Kind of everywhere. I’m a military child. I was born in Virginia, but if I was to say I grew up anywhere, it would probably be Augusta. My dad was stationed at Fort Gordon. But right here in Georgia is where I’ve spent most of my life.
CT: How long were you in Augusta?
EK: Close to 14 years. We traveled around in Germany, but I was really young at that point. My dad was in the Army for about 23 years. We were stationed at Fort Lee in Virginia for three years and after that is when we went to Germany. He did a tour there for two years. Shortly after that is when we officially moved to Fort Gordon. Luckily enough, we were able to stay in Augusta. I was there from elementary school through high school.
CT: What sports did you play?
EK: Football, track and field, and basketball.
CT: What was your best sport?
EK: The sport I was getting recruited in was football and then also track and field.
CT: Looking back, how would you scout yourself?
EK: I was a do-it-all football player. I definitely wasn’t a three- or four-star like some of these guys in Gwinnett County, but I was a do-it-all hard worker. I was easy to get along with — Yes, sir. No, sir — and coaches liked that.
CT: What was your college decision-making process like?
EK: Ultimately I knew I wanted to do something in medicine. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the field, but selecting colleges, No. 1, I wanted to move as far away from home as I could. (laughing) So that was Valdosta. But also, at that point, I was still interested in the military and they had a good ROTC program there. For that reason and also because they had a strong athletic training/sports medicine program, I decided to go down there.
CT: When did you figure out athletic training was really the direction you wanted to go?
EK: Probably my sophomore year. I started out as premed and then after more research and talking to people, you understand medical school is like 16 years. I didn’t know if I was quite ready for that, at that age.
CT: And a truckload of debt.
EK: I definitely took that into consideration. I love sports and I love medicine. Athletic training is born out of that.
CT: What was your first job ever?
EK: (laughing) I was an apprentice with an electrician. Way back then, I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I came from a blue-collar family. My best friend’s dad was an electrician. He owned his own business. So I would ride around Augusta with him in a 1976 Chevy van and I would do simple stuff. It was a really cool thing. I actually loved it.
CT: What was your first job out of college?
EK: I came up here to Atlanta and started working in an orthopedic office with Dr. (Gary) Levengood. I was an athletic trainer doing clinical outreach. I started there first and branched out into the community from there.
CT: How long ago was that?
EK: Close to nine years. I was there from 2009 until just this past year.
CT: What precipitated the move to Mountain View?
EK: I’ve always done clinical outreach and Mountain View has been my school as far as sports medicine care for about eight years. But what I would do is work in the morning in the clinic and then come here to take care of the sports medicine program.
CT: Now you’re just here?
EK: No, I teach now. That’s something new. I actually teach sports medicine at Grayson High School.
CT: I didn’t know sports medicine was an option. How long have they offered that?
EK: For a while. There are two type of sports medicine classes, but to make it easy, I’d say close to 15 to 20 years. Sports medicine has really changed over the years so they continue to add in curriculum.
CT: What appeals to you about working with high school athletes? You’ve worked at all levels, college and also with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
EK: There’s so much opportunity for better care at the high school level. That’s really what motivates me. When you look at other (levels), they really have everything they need. The major Division I and II colleges, they’ve got everything. So how can we assimilate what they have at the NFL and college level and help bring that to high school athletes? They’re the most vulnerable to injuries.
CT: Is the hardest part of the job getting an athlete to admit they’re hurt?
EK: (chuckling) If they’re an athlete, yeah, it’s hard to get them to admit if they’re hurt. But every athlete has a different personality and it’s trying to match their personality with your skill of care. It’s important. You may have an athlete that’s really aggressive that wants to get back on the field where we have to meet our skill of care to that.
CT: It’s interesting how coaching and athletic training run parallel in ways, especially when it comes to sports psychology and understanding how athletes are motivated.
EK: No doubt about it. Actually, the history of athletic training, 50 years ago, before we really saw official certification, a lot of coaches were athletic trainers. It’s natural. Everybody here calls me Coach Knox.
CT: Is this your first year teaching?
CT: How’s it going?
EK: I love it. I love mentoring kids and to me, it’s not just about teaching, it’s about connecting kids and helping them toward their future. I really love it.
CT: What was it like working for the Bucs?
EK: That was actually done, they had a program with the Bucs, and I really credit our program director at Valdosta State, Russ Hoff. He really was the one that directed me and gave me the opportunity to work down at Tampa Bay. It really gives you an idea of what it’s like to work in the NFL. One thing I got out of it is it’s a lot of work. You’re trying to add small systems to large systems.
It was definitely an experience I will always remember. I gained a lot of experience on how to conduct myself professionally and what hard work means. Then how is information communicated throughout the team. But working there was awesome.
I’ll never forget the first hit that I heard. It sounded like a trainwreck. It was amazing. You appreciate the game and sport at that level. It’s different than watching it on TV.
CT: And like you said, the level of care is unparallelled.
EK: They have everything. They had just renovated the whole facility. They have everything you can thing of to make sure the athletes stay safe and healthy.
CT: Were you a senior when you interned with Sports Medicine South?
EK: It was an externship. So for a whole year, I was still in school, but I was off campus in Atlanta. It was their way of getting on-the-field experience and 12 credits at the same time.
CT: Can you detail all of your responsibilities when it comes to this job?
EK: (laughing) Oh, man. I can give you the five domains: prevention, treatment, recognition of injuries, administration and management. Whatever you can think of that falls under that is what we do. We do everything on behalf of the athlete.
Athletic training has really evolved, I think for the better. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s a lot of things we do for the kids to make sure they have a safe environment to play and practice in.
CT: What kind of music do you listen to most often?
EK: I love 2000s hip-hop. That’s my era. Kendrick Lamar is really big on my list right now. We actually just recently saw him in concert. I love country, too. Now, I couldn’t tell you a country artist’s name, but I turn on the station and jam out. I listen to everything honestly.
CT: Who would you like to see in concert if money were no object?
EK: If I could bring them back, I would probably say Tupac. He was talking about real stuff that was happening in society.
CT: Are there TV shows you DVR?
EK: I don’t really have time to watch TV, but the one show I do DVR is “ABC World News.” That’s the one show I watch when I get home because I have to figure out what’s going on.
CT: Are there movies you will always watch?
EK: “Rush Hour.” It’s one of my favorites of all time.
CT: How many U.S. states have you been to?
EK: Really, not that many. Maybe about seven. All along the eastern seaboard.
CT: Is there a part of the country you haven’t seen that you would like to?
EK: I would love to go up to Maine and that area. The scenery up there has to be awesome — and I love seafood. That’s the main thing (laughing).