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EVEN back in the day when Columbus had only one high school and a handful of sanctioned sports that were limited to boys, the job of a school’s athletic trainer could be quite daunting, especially on football fields where the average team consisted of at least three dozen players participating in a contact sport.
Those simpler days are a thing of the distant past as Columbus education morphed into a two-high school system, each school offering a full slate of participatory sports for boys and girls alike.
Ironically, despite the mushrooming numbers and their attendant requirements, each of those schools had only one athletic trainer.
Their responsibilities were enormous. The schools participate in 20 Indiana High School Athletic Association-sanctioned sports (boys and girls).
In some sports (football especially) the rosters include upward of 50 players. Hedy George, former athletics director at Columbus North, estimates that more than 650 students participate in some athletic event at North each year.
Not all of these individuals will need the services of an athletic trainer, but in some sports, the services provided are critical to the safety and well-being of the players, especially in football, where concerns grow each year about concussions resulting from constant contact.
Thanks to a cooperative arrangement between the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and Columbus Regional Hospital, the demands on the schools’ athletics trainers have been eased, and student athletes are able to participate in their chosen sports with a greater assurance of safety.
Under terms of the arrangement, North and East have been able to add a second person to their training staffs.
The added personnel come at the hospital’s expense. Their services are also used at Northside and Central middle schools.
There is a practical benefit for the hospital as well. The three-year contract makes the hospital the school system’s exclusive provider of sports medicine and athletic services.
Many of the duties of the trainers are preventive in nature, taping ankles or icing sore shoulders prior to a contest. They are also educational, with a focus on helping the athletes assess their physical condition and take steps to address particular concerns.
But because of a growing national awareness about the dangers associated with concussions resulting from contact on the football field, trained individuals are integral to player safety.
Having those individuals on the field reduces the chances of more serious injuries.
This emphasis on safety is continued through such practices as having an ambulance on standby at all high school varsity football games.
Injuries are inevitable on playing fields and arenas, especially when the number of participants is so high as in the case of the local schools.
The expansion of the athletic trainer staffs serves as a reassurance that the schools are better prepared to prevent and/or deal with those injuries.
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