What About the Players off the Field?

Athletic Trainers

Ryliegh Martin , Writer, Editor

When it comes to sports, injuries are bound to happen, whether it’s as small as an inflamed muscle or as big as a broken bone. With injuries, typically prevention and rehabilitation are not the first thoughts that come to a player’s mind. Rather they think: Will I be able to play? How long will this take to heal? 

When those questions arise, athletic trainers are the ones who are there to bring the athlete to awareness of ways of prevention and rehabilitation. Athletic trainers, according to Head Atheltic Trainer Samuel Sorrell, are healthcare providers working in the field of Sports medicine. They hold advanced degrees in Sports Medicine/Healthcare and are nationally board-certified and state-licensed; specializing in injury prevention, diagnosis and rehabilitative care.

“The sooner athletes communicate about an injury, the sooner we can start figuring out what is causing the problem and begin correcting it,” Sorrell said. “Many problems athletes face are simple solutions but when they don’t take care of them, the problem becomes bigger and much harder to take care of.”

Athletes are often stubborn, finding it easier to ignore the pain and continue playing rather than consulting the trainers provided for them in order to stop the problem from becoming an issue that takes them out of their sport or activity. Often times when issues arise, athletic trainers’ immediate questions to the injured athlete are: What have you been doing to decrease the pain? How long has this pain been going on? 

“Know when you don’t feel right and don’t be afraid to speak up about it,” Sorrell said. “Also, taking care of your body is everything from getting enough sleep at night, to staying hydrated, to making sure you are eating healthy foods. All of it plays into how well you feel and perform as an athlete.”

Student-Athletes coming into the Athletic Training Room on a day-to-day basis ranges from 50-70 students. These athletes coming in are there for many different reasons from all sorts of injuries to other ailments that need attention and are often overlooking the causes behind their progress. Trainers working off the field are just as important as the athletes on the field. They are there to support each athlete on the field, course, or the court to anything they may need. 

“In this day and age of sports, safety has never been at a higher priority level,” Sorrell said. “From concussions to cardiac emergencies and everything in between, our job as Athletic Trainers is to ensure that safety is present at all times and when something does happen, to respond accordingly. You never want to see someone hurt, but when they are, we want to be there to make sure the proper care is given and we can get the athlete back as safely and quickly as possible.”

Furthermore, Athletic Trainers know their job is to be good communicators as they have to communicate with many different types of people from parents to coaches to doctors. Their top priority is to be able to discuss and explain effectively-Coach Sorrell put it- about what is going on with the patient. Needing relationships to know what details are to be shared and what progressions need to be made in order to provide wellness and rehabilitation for the athlete. 

“It’s an honor to know that we help keep student-athletes safe and on the playing field,” Sorrell said. “It is a very rewarding experience to help an injured athlete return to the sport they love.  As Athletic Trainers, we don’t get the “spotlight” very much. When we have an athlete experience a significant injury and then go through the recovery process, to be able to watch them find success again on the field, it is truly all the reward we could relish.”