First off, I want to thank all my followers for your understanding that
I needed a little time off in February. What better place than a tiny
(itty bitty) fishing village south of Cancun where the generator only
runs for a few hours a day, the water is always lukewarm, nachos are considered
a breakfast food and the fish are plentiful, but you have to throw them
back. I might be a little crispy around the edges from standing on the
bow of a boat, looking for bonefish for six days, but now I am clear of
mind and ready for the rest of the year.
So like I said in the title, have you hugged your athletic trainer today?
March is National Athletic Training month, so I thought this would be
the perfect time to spotlight the athletic trainers living in the community.
When you are in the stands at one of our local high school or CCGA sporting
events, can you spot the trainer? If you look closely, you can usually
identify them as the person wearing a fanny pack slung over their shoulder,
typically holding a roll of tape, and attentively following the game to
make sure no one has gone to ground during a play. If an athlete is injured,
they are the first one to sprint off the sideline like a medic in a WWII
film, running out to a soldier. After an assessment on the field, that
player, if able, is taken to an exam table for treatment. Being on the
sidelines for hundreds of games with the trainers, I am always amazed
how they can treat a player, talk to the mama who is now leaning over
the bleachers, and continually scan the field of play for injured players.
When the game is over, the team has won or lost, the injured player has
been treated, you may think it’s time for the athletic trainer to
go home, but that’s not likely. Think of the trainer as the jack-of-all-trades.
After the game, they have to get off the bus or meet the team and start
setting up treatment. The players who
up and sore from hard competition start filing in the training room for
treatment before they go home. Injuries are assessed, ice packs are handed out and
coordinated for the rest of the week. Can the trainer go home now? No.
Around this time, coaches start sticking their head in the training room,
asking about the status of their athletes. Finally, our industrious athletic
trainer gets a chance to leave, but only after he or she has cleaned up
the training room and organized supplies. That is a game day in the life
of an athletic trainer.
The Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) is highly qualified in the care of
athletes. Their fund of knowledge in regards to anatomy, physiology, biomechanics
rehabilitation equals or surpasses many other health care providers. Here
are a few salient points that need to be highlighted about ATC’s
- Found in a variety of settings, including high schools, colleges, professional
sports, youth sports, physical therapy clinics, physician offices, military,
law enforcement, and large business campuses.
- Health care providers.
- Trained in CPR and AED use.
- Required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and to have passed
a national certification exam.
- Intelligent. Over 70 percent of Certified Athletic Trainers possess a Masters
Degree or higher.
- Part of the sports medicine team, which is made up of a variety of health
- Leaders in concussion recognition and management.
Less than half of all high schools in the U.S. provide their
access to a certified athletic trainer.
- Responsible for the prevention, evaluation, and rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries.
- Most importantly, athletic trainers save lives
Locally, Southeast Georgia Health System provides Sports Medicine services,
including an ATC at two Glynn County High Schools (Glynn Academy and Brunswick
High), Frederica Academy and McIntosh Academy. There is also an ATC who
acts as a community liaison, helping to provide coverage for other local
events, including the Bridge Run, Super Dolphin Day and many other community
activities. Each ATC provides training to local coaches on CPR and concussion
management. They also provide invaluable services by teaching
all topics of healthy habits, including concussion management, injury
treatment, rehabilitation, hydration, nutrition
heat illness. They work directly with coaches on injury management programs
such as ACL injury prevention and the new FIFA 11+ program for injury
prevention in soccer. They help to coordinate care of the injured athlete
and are responsible for treatment programs and return to play protocols
with oversight by myself in my role as the Sports Medicine Director for
the Health System. Finally, they assist with the coordination of the
annual sports physicals and on the field management of spinal injuries
with EMS services. Wow! That’s a lot to do.
Last year, my oldest son received his Eagle Scout. One of the cornerstone
mottos of Scouts is “Be Prepared.” From my standpoint, all
ATC’s exemplify this concept daily. They have to be prepared for
everything. They prepare for injury, so it doesn’t become catastrophic.
They prepare for emergencies by carrying around equipment they hope they
will never use. They prepare for bad weather. They prepare, so the
can perform to their fullest potential. They prepare, so all of your children
and grandchildren, cousins, nephews and nieces can get out and play, knowing
that if they go down, the first thing they are going to see is the athletic
trainer—prepared, ready to take care of them.
I want to personally thank all of the ATCs that I have worked with, past
and present, for their diligence and dedication to the athletes of Glynn
County. If you see one, you should thank them too. (Hint: the fanny pack
is a dead
that they are an athletic trainer!)