34 Percent of schools across the country don’t have any athletic trainers. According to a 2019 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This raises the issue of players safety.
Douglas Braff spoke to area Athletic Directors and other officials about how some of our local schools fare?
They are the unsung heros of high school sports
“And it really works out great. I mean he’s a full time employee here he’s full time plus actually.”
All the Athletic Directors across multiple school districts I spoke with say they have at least one athletic trainer though most only have one. All of their trainers are
contracted through a Medical company such as Penn Highlands or Geisinger.
All the Athletic Directors say the trainers judgements outrank the coaches when players are injured
“That’s the athletic trainers yeah, not the coaches.”
“A lot of Friday Nights at least for the home games sometimes we have a physician on hand from one of the local orthopedic groups that volunteers their time. But it’s 90
percent of the time that the athletic trainers making that call.”
“Any injury that goes down coaches have no say in that whatsoever. Our athletic trainer determines whether they’re eligible to play or not.”
“You know it’s all up to the athletic trainers. They’re in the medical field our coaches are not trained you know for that stuff.”
That sport is almost always football. But since many local schools have only one trainer it poses some challenges especially when there are multiple games at once
“Well, sometimes we’re running simultaneous games and he will be on the sidelines of typically the most dangerous sport that we’re playing that day.”
But what challenges do trainers themselves face? One trainer who has a resume heavy with academic accomplishments in training and medicine says it’s the schedule
“We have long hours you know we’re kind of on everyone else’s schedule but our own you know you have to deal with coaches and parents and things like that but I mean for me
the pros definitely outweigh the cons a lot. So, I think I mean, my favorite part of the job is interacting with the student athletes, evaling injuries, and making return to
plays and going through rehab and getting the kids back on the field.”
Not every school is fortunate enough to have a trainer at games and practices, or even at all.
An official from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association says schools are not required to have them. Certain factors also make it hard for policy to be one size
“And as you can imagine I mean, you know we’re a state where we have extremely small districts where there’s less than a hundred kids at the school, and then we have you go
outside of Philadelphia and they’ve got school populations of over 2,000. So you know we let it up to the schools in terms of what you know what they feel suits their needs
But at the end of the day a trainers connection with players is sometimes the best medicine
“It’s really nice when your athletic trainer gets to know your student body and athletes. That familiarity is it’s huge in treating those kids and knowing different kids pain
tolerances and different kids needs.”