Asked about the biggest misconception of student athletic trainers, Centennial High School senior Mizuki Pinkerton didn’t need long to answer.
“I feel like a lot of people just think we are water girls and boys,” she said.
The student athletic trainers in Frisco ISD know the truth, as do the coaches and athletes that they work with during the school year. Student athletic trainers are highly trained, many are interested in careers in sports medicine, and they are relied on by the two athletic trainers at each FISD high school.
“They’re essential because they’re a second set of eyes for us,” said Memorial High School athletic trainer Lou Scala.
“They’re able to see things when we’re working on another athlete or handling something else.”
They’re also a second pair of hands in many cases, taping ankles, applying bandages and helping the athletic trainers evaluate and treat injuries. They work with the athletes throughout the week, and they are on the sidelines of practices and games. They learn the importance of not reacting emotionally to an injury and how to stay calm in stressful situations.
“Until people are really educated about what these kids do, they don’t really know,” Centennial athletic trainer Jennifer Lamabe said. “The kids have to learn how to handle the moment and have poise. Hopefully we’re teaching them to remain calm, evaluate a situation and take care of business.”
Each FISD high school has an athletic training program led by its two athletic trainers (ATs), who are different than personal trainers. While personal trainers prescribe and monitor exercise programs for individuals, ATs are healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians and specialize in the prevention, emergency care, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sports-related illness. They are certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association, and according to NATA, 70 percent of its trainers have graduate degrees.
Many student athletic trainers spend all four years in the program, but they can also start as sophomores, juniors or seniors. The programs also offer some flexibility for students who are unable to serve as athletic trainers the entire year. Student athletes, for example, can work as athletic trainers when their sport is not in season.
The number of student athletic trainers at each school varies, with an average of about 15, and the schools differ in how they divide sports responsibilities among the students. Each school’s program, however, starts the same way. Students interested in the program apply, and after they’re accepted, they take a sports-medicine class.
The class is a full-year course taught by the ATs that includes classwork and practical applications in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries, as well as taping and wrapping of injuries and lessons in first aid, CPR and emergency procedures. While taking the course, the students also begin hands-on training with the athletes.
“It’s great because they’re learning all these different skill sets,” Scala said, “for whatever medical field they want to be in.”
Destiny Johnson, an Independence High School senior and a student athletic trainer since she was a freshman, is planning to attend Blinn College in Brenham and has been accepted to the school’s athletic training program. Johnson is a former volleyball player who stopped playing because of a knee injury.
“This gave me an opportunity to still be around sports and do something that I love,” said Johnson, whose goal is to become an AT and work with a National Football League team. “I get to be hands on, and I love being hands on with stuff.”
Johnson said she loves how the Independence student athletic trainers work together, especially during the football season when so many athletes are involved. Pinkerton also likes that teamwork feeling at Centennial, as well as the interaction students have with the ATs and the doctors who work with the school district.
The conversations with the athletic trainers and the doctors have helped Pinkerton, who is enrolled in the Emergency Medical Technician dual-credit course with Collin College, decide to pursue a career as a physician assistant.
“Frisco ISD has so many great programs, but this specific program, it sets you up with connections, it sets you up with friendships, and there’s all the education, of course,” she said. “And then there’s the hands-on experience that you get to do out in the field. I think it’s a great opportunity for students.”
(This story appears in the January edition of Frisco ISD Focus Magazine. The entire magazine can be found here: https://cloud.3dissue.com/182751/189942/221760/January-2019)