They Get It, But Don’t Get It

Having an athletic trainer at the high school, especially a school that has collision sports, is not only handy it is a down right necessity – for various reasons.  The most poignant being emergency care of injured athletes; it goes deeper than that.

Athletic Trainers are not only trained for medical emergencies but we are all trained for the routine and “normal” injuries that occur on the playing field/court.  Each day in my training room I see 4-5 new faces with new ailments that need tended to; this would be the coaches problems if I weren’t there.  Or, in some cases these “normal/routine” injuries are off to doctors offices – often general practitioners that see more illness than injury – for a time and money cost for the family.

I could write a 4,000 word post on the need for athletic trainers at high schools, but I feel most of you understand, and for the most part the schools understand.  I am not talking about the athletic trainer that comes to a school once a week to see injuries (the lowest level of coverage and inadequate in my opinion), I am speaking about the need for the everyday athletic trainer.  In the case of “they get it, but don’t get it” I give you the Washoe County school system in Nevada (BTW, they are not the only ones, but a good example);

On a typical day after school at Spanish Springs, there is a waiting line for athletes to see athletic trainer Jason Klonicke, even with three student assistants helping tape athletes before practice or helping on the sidelines.

That just shows one reason why it’s hard for Washoe County schools to fill and maintain their athletic trainer positions.

“The athletic trainers that are here now, we have to be teachers to get the balance of the salary and the benefits. Then they get burnt out and don‘t want to do it anymore,” Klonicke said. “I have the full-time teaching job, and I’m also the PE department leader. I’m the full-time athletic trainer here at the school. Then I also work as the Lead Athletic Trainer for the Washoe County School District. I’m juggling being a teacher, an athletic trainer and a father and a husband.

“Every day, the first hour after school is just a zoo. I need to get the athletes ready for practice and games. I’m doing evaluations, setting up water on the field in order to make sure no one dehydrates themselves. I have to do impact testing on top of that, anytime there’s a suspected head injury, and that takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s very difficult.”

Making matters worse is the lack of financial support these trainers receive. It’s not like Clark County School District where athletic trainers are salaried employees and receive full benefits.

Athletic trainers in the WCSD receive a $13,000 stipend for their work, but must work another job in order to support a family or even themselves.

“We’ve only had one person apply the past five years, and when they found out what the stipend was, they hung up,” Klonicke said. “They didn’t even say ‘are you kidding me?’ or ask why we’re not doing more for the profession. They straight up hung up on us.”

I don’t know that I would just hang up, I think I would laugh hysterically first, then say “are you serious”, then hang up.  Obviously this school district – with the help of Jason Klonicke – understands the need but do they really understand?  I ask again; would you send your kids to the local swimming pool without a lifeguard?  Yes, the analogy holds true, moreover an athletic trainer at a high school may even be more important.

Later in the article another school not only understands this issue but feels that they are even at peril against law suits without an athletic trainer on staff;

Football is the big sport where a trainer would be most needed. To compensate for the lack of a trainer, coaches are looked upon to do whatever they can since they all are required to have minimal first aid and CPR training. However, for anything more serious, emergency services must be called.

“To be honest with you, we’re hopeful that nothing catastrophic happens,” Reed athletic director Ron Coombs said. “But if something does happen, we have been instructed that for any injury that requires immediate medical attention, we call 911. Ankle sprains we can tape and we can ice. Anything major requires an immediate contact with a parent and an immediate contact with emergency services.”

Reed High opens its training room after school for an hour and coaches supervise the room. But when coaches start doing things other than coaching, it puts those teams at a disadvantage.

“It’s extra stress on everybody to make sure we’re getting kids at least minimal attention for their injuries,” Coombs said.

Reed isn’t the only local school without a trainer. North Valleys, Hug and Incline are in the same boat. Like Klonicke, Coombs believes it’s simply a matter of pay.

“It’s just a little over $12,000 a year to be a trainer in the Washoe County School District. It’s a full-time job with part-time pay,” he said.

And I will close this with my good friend, Matt Chaney, and his take;

–duh, an enormous truth Football America won’t yet face, major legal hole for easily half the schools and large majority of ‘youth football’ leagues… not to mention an unethical operation, but that doesn’t really matter, does it, when winning and self-gratification at all costs constitute real ethos of modern America…


3 thoughts on “They Get It, But Don’t Get It

  1. Michael Hopper October 15, 2012 / 12:12

    You know my thoughts Dustin so I feel like there’s no need for me to say it again. For the readers, please check out previous posts on this issue. Specifically “Ten Reasons Your Schools Needs an Athletic Trainer.”

    If you cannot afford an athletic trainer, you CANNO afford contact/collision sports.

    Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer.

  2. Glenn Beckmann October 15, 2012 / 13:26

    Agree 100%. But what are we going to do about it?

  3. Jake August 21, 2014 / 13:11

    Glenn, we can push our legislators to write it into law to require an athletic trainer in every school in our respective states. There are athletic training boards and organizations across the country that are doing this. We have to reach out to students who have benefitted from our work, especially those who have had their lives saved by an athletic trainer, and get their stories out there to promote the importance of our presence in youth sports.

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