• Come on, you can do it!
• Let me help you!
• No pain, No gain!
• Sorry. You will need to sit out now but you will be back in the game as soon as it’s safe to play.
These are the messages athletic trainers send to athletes every day in order to keep them safe and playing the sports they love.
For over five years I have had the privilege of working with athletic trainers in Westchester County where I am the medical director for two districts. These professionals are in the trenches, watching our student athletes through all kinds of uncomfortable weather, at all times of the week and all hours of the day. Early morning practices and late, overtime games, seven days a week. The athletic trainers are there.
But it’s not just that they show up. They also do a tremendously important job, watching out for unsafe turf conditions, calling athletes out if they appear to have a concussion, and even saving the lives of referees and spectators who may get into medical trouble themselves. They are exceedingly well trained and have personalities that match their jobs. They do not give up. They may make it look easy to make the tough decisions as they sometimes need to stand their ground against opinionated coaches, referees, parents, athletes, bystander-doctors and others.
I am looking forward to a long collaboration with these professionals. And it would be my hope that every secondary school employs one. And that every medical director of school health has such a teammate. It’s hard for me to imagine a safe high school athletic program without one.