November 19, 2015 – The National Athletic Trainers’ Association
(NATA) presented Glynn Academy with the Safe Sports School Award in October
2015. This distinguished award recognizes secondary schools across the
country that are implementing safe sports policies and best practices.
Schools considered for this award have the appropriate care in place to
prevent, manage and treat injuries should they occur. Since launching
the program in 2013, fewer than 10 Georgia high schools and approximately
550 secondary schools around the country have received the coveted NATA honor.
“This award recognizes the commitment and combined efforts that
Glynn Academy and Glynn County School coaches and trainers have made in
partnership with Southeast Georgia Health System to ensure student athletes
are practicing and competing in a safe and healthy environment,”
says Dan Welch, certified athletic trainer, Southeast Georgia Health System.
Welch also serves as Glynn Academy’s trainer for more than two dozen teams.
NATA is committed to the health and welfare of young athletes in competitive
sports by recognizing schools that meet specific safety criteria. Many
of the schools recognized by NATA go above and beyond their necessary
standards. To achieve Safe Sports School status, an institution’s
athletic programs must satisfy a number of criteria:
- create a positive athletic health care administrative system
- provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations
- promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities
- plan for selection, fit, function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment
- provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat
- develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for
- provide or facilitate injury intervention
- create and rehearse a venue-specific Emergency Action Plan
- provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education
- educate athletes and parents on the potential benefits and risks in sports
as well as their responsibilities
Glynn Academy met or surpassed each of these 10 points and earned “First
Team” status from NATA. As Welch explains, the successful application
of these initiatives didn’t occur overnight, and it could not have
been achieved without a total team effort.
“It usually takes months or even years for a school to attain all
of NATA’s qualifications, but these standards ensure that schools
are creating safer, healthier athletes,” says Welch.
To ensure top-notch medical care can be provided quickly to student athletes,
Glynn County Schools partner with the Health System to provide certified
athletic trainers at Brunswick High School and Glynn Academy, making it
possible for athletic injuries to be managed as soon as they occur. Under
the direction of board-certified orthopaedic surgeon Beau Sasser, M.D.,
medical director, Sports Medicine, the athletic trainers develop and implement
emergency action plans in conjunction with the coaching staffs. They also
create and implement policies and procedures to give care to and educate
the injured athlete.
In addition to ensuring that basic NATA qualifications are met, Welch
also employs preventative education to reduce the number of injuries and
increase athleticism. “Nutrition, hydration and sleep are the main
topics I impress upon student athletes since these are actions they can
control and that have a big impact on performance,” explains Welch.
“I also stress the importance of taking ownership of their injuries
and following through with rehabilitation. This way, they can return to
play as quickly and safely as possible.”
Paul Trumbull, director of Rehabilitation, Sports Medicine and Neurodiagnostic
Services at the Health System, says the honor is especially gratifying
because it comes from NATA, the professional organization that provides
the top standards for all athletic trainers nationwide. According to Trumbull,
the award is also a testament to the hard work and collaboration of multiple
organizations, schools and staffs.
“The partnership we have with Glynn County schools and the close
working relationships our athletic trainers have built with their athletic
supervisors makes a successful team,” says Trumbull. “Although
initiatives were developed by the Health System to ensure student athlete
safety, injury prevention and education, no single organization’s
plan could win this award. Glynn Academy’s success is a collaborative
effort between Southeast Georgia Health System, the local schools, coaches
and staff to promote the safety and health of student athletes.”
Steve Waters, head athletic director for Glynn County, echoes Trumbull’s
assertions. “It takes our whole team of athletic trainers, coaches
and administrators to implement and carry out the message of safety to
our student athletes. It’s not just about dealing with athletic
injuries; it’s about maintaining a clean environment, safe facilities
and developing policies and procedures for weather conditions, such as
heat or lightning, and following through with those procedures if an emergency
occurs. Many of the coaches we’ve hired from out of town tell me
that they’ve never seen a better sports medicine team than what
we offer in our school system.”
Glynn Academy will receive a Safe Sports School banner from NATA to display
at the school and a formal certificate in the coming weeks.