If you attend very many high school athletic events in Blount County, you will see a lot of young people following our athletic trainers around. If you have ever wondered what these kids are doing, they are student athletic trainers.
For more than the last 25 years, Appalachian Therapy Center, and now Blount Memorial Hospital Total Rehabilitation, has trained these teens to help our athletic trainers on the sidelines. These kids provide a valuable service to their schools, while learning about a potential career. The program provides them an opportunity to be involved in an extracurricular activity for their school, when they otherwise might not be involved in anything.
It is not unusual for us to have 35-50 kids in the program for the high schools we serve. This year we have 33 young people from three of our area high schools. Sharon Wood, MS, ATC, EMT-IV, head athletic trainer at Maryville College, is the director of the summer instructional camp where they’re taught the ropes of athletic training.
While most young people are thinking about how they can pack the most into the last couple of weeks of summer before school starts, these kids are learning how to tape, do first aid and CPR and recognize some of the more common injuries in sports. They serve a valuable purpose as helpers to their school’s athletic trainer. They are often extra eyes and ears on the practice fields.
In many circumstances, they are also our legs, running to get us supplies to use, or when necessary, running to get the ambulance. They are taught how to help spine board an athlete when necessary.
Over the years, many of our students have gone on to careers in athletic training, physical therapy, emergency medicine and medicine. We have also had a few serve throughout high school, but then go on to other careers. Either way, they have gained valuable experience that will serve them throughout their careers.
Make no mistake, these young ladies and young men work. They are usually the first ones to practice to get the athletes ready and the last ones to leave after every athlete is gone. They are there every day just like the athletes you see on the field. They make sure the players have enough water, cover up that bleeding scratch so they can stay in the game. They also do a lot of taping prior to the practice or game. After the game, they are cutting off tape and handing out ice, after which they clean up to do it all over again the next time.
We have even had a couple of our former students save the life of a child in their neighborhood that had drowned in a swimming pool by performing CPR they learned in student athletic trainer camp.
If you know of any students who might be interested in becoming a student athletic trainer, have them talk to their school’s athletic trainer or they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peggy Bratt is a certified athletic trainer and Sports Medicine Coordinator for Blount Memorial Hospital Total Rehabilitation. Bratt, who also serves as head athletic trainer for Alcoa High School, writes periodically in “The Training Table” on issues concerning youth sports.