KEEPING THE PLAYER IN THE GAME
The Role of Athletic Trainers in High School Sports
August ushered in a new school year, and with it came the excitement of fall sports and Friday Night Football. Across Shreveport-Bossier, it is common to find a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines during games, practices and in the team’s fieldhouse.
On paper, the role of an athletic trainer is to provide the first line of care to an injured athlete. Athletic trainers prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate injuries and illnesses. In reality, they’re so much more to the athletes under their care.
“We’re the first ones there, sometimes in injury and life. We have a relationship with these players. They tell us stuff they won’t tell their coaches. We know when something might be going on that is affecting their performance,” said Alan Edwards, CHRISTUS athletic trainer.
Edwards leads a team of trainers providing care for several high schools locally. He explained his team offers an open line of communication for coaches, parents and physicians used to get athletes back in the game safely and as quickly as possible.
“We are there with them most every day. We see them at their lowest point, hurt and injured; when they think they can get back and then we get to experience the excitement when they return to the game.”
As part of a sports medicine program, athletes become the beneficiary of a care team focused on making them a priority. There is no guessing game for if and when proper care is needed and provided. The programs are supported by athletic trainers, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons, who work the sidelines at local high schools and are passionate about the game. They understand sports and the determination that drives the athletes. They also understand the disappointment and heartbreak that comes along with injury.
“The goal here for everyone involved is the health of the individual athlete. This is the way our system moves, and it is important that we have rapport with these guys; we want them to know us, the coaches and the trainers,” Dr. George Byram III, an orthopedic surgeon, said.
Over the last decade, tougher laws and regulations governing contact sports, safety, and recognizing and treating concussions have been implemented to protect high school athletes better. Athletic trainers are able to educate the team and coaches on injury management and prevention to make sure regulations are met.
“There are athletic trainers at every level, they’re highly trained, they have to be there. They know the kids better than most, they are at the school more than us, and in most cases when injury happens. We rely on them heavily and trust their judgment,” said Dr. Byram.
Another benefit of the sports medicine program is the education opportunities for coaches and students. Conditioning clinics, basic lifesaving skills classes and physicals for the hundreds of high school students across the region are offered complimentary.
CHRISTUS provides care for seven high school athletic programs in Northwest Louisiana. For more information or to find out how we can help care for your athlete, visit CHRISTUShealth.org and search Sports Medicine.
Shelli Murphy, contributor, CHRISTUS Health.