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Athletic Trainers: Unsung heroes behind Apache sports


Sports medicine- noun

1. Field of medicine concerned with the prevention and treatment of injuries and disorders that are related to participation in sports.

This definition describes the duty of an athletic trainer as America sees it. If students were to ask the 21 dedicated athletic trainers if this was the only role they played, they would most likely think otherwise. 

It takes several individuals in order to form a successful athletic program. No job is more important than the next. Athletic trainers are involved in every step of an athlete’s career. “I believe athletic training is just as important as any position. We keep the athletes hydrated, wrap ankles, file paperwork and a lot more than the fans see”, says sophomore Yazma Smith from Tyler. 

Athletic trainers not only aid athletes during game days but also attend practices, travel with teams, conduct treatments before and after games, and deal with a lot of the psychological affects that athletes go through when an injury occurs. Wade Johnson, assistant athletic trainer is in the process of acquiring his master’s degree in sports psychology. “We’re so close to the athletes and it gives them another person to talk to and go to in a time of need.” says Johnson. 

Even though every injury is taken very seriously, every season brings injuries that will have a major impact on the athlete’s career. These injures can effect the athlete’s psyche. Athletic trainers have to be prepared when dealing with an athlete that has encountered a season ending injury. Aside from dealing with the psychological process, they are also trained how to judge when an athlete is down playing their injury. Johnson says, ” We can always give athletes a knee brace or do treatments before and after an injury but we can’t replace their brain if they lie about how bad their concussion is.” Johnson has only encountered 6 major injuries while at TJC.

The large athletic training facility has enough equipment to accommodate athletes in every level. A cold whirlpool and hot tub is available to help the athletes’ muscles after intense workouts and games and to help rehab injuries. The variety of rehab equipment is also a very vital part of the facility. The taping tables against the wall make it much easier when wrapping the athletes’ ankles. The facility is spacious in order to hold the high quantity of athletes that visit daily. 

The select student athletic trainers come prepared to make athletic training a priority throughout their two-year term. Student trainers are assigned a sport to serve while in season. Each sport is given at least two student trainers. 

Student athletic trainers often are required to sacrifice most of their social life to be as dedicated as possible. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for doing what you love to do. There’s times when I have plans to do something but I’ll have practice to attend to and I have to cancel. I’m ok with that”, says Smith. Student athletic trainers arrive from summer break before the athletes do to prepare for their duties.

Freshman Austin Scott from Pearland is assigned to the men’s basketball team. Scott explains, ” Athletic training is all about time management. I put in at least eight hours a day to athletic training and at least thirteen during the weekend.”

Though student athletic trainers spend a large quantity of their time dedicated to athletic training, they must also make time for their schoolwork. Johnson says, “We treat our student athletic trainers like adults. They are also part of the athletic program and are required to maintain good grades.” Student athletic trainers are required to attend study hall every day in order to keep focus on their schoolwork. They also attend a lab that focuses on important information that trainers need to know when dealing with different situations in athletic training.

Athletes and coaches at TJC don’t take the hard work athletic trainers do for granted. “Athletic Trainers are very much appreciated here. We have a great group of kids this year and they let us know that appreciate us especially if you’re dealing with a catastrophic injury. Those athletes that we’re with day in and day out and express how thankful they are of us”, says Johnson. 

Although faculty and athletes are gracious for the committed athletic trainers, athletic training is a profession that can be hard to understand if one not part of the athletic field. When asked if she thought athletic training was appreciated, Smith responded, ” I wish it was more appreciated because people only see the things we do on the field like give water. They don’t see us preventing the injuries, wrapping ankles or rehabbing after injuries.”

Athletic trainers are a vital part of athletics. “Athletic training is a like another world. You can’t make assumptions without trying. It may look easy though a fan’s point of view but there’s a lot of pressure behind it “, says Scott. Whether they’re rehabbing an athlete or attending practices to keep the athletes hydrated, their role in the athletic field is crucial.


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