September/October 2019 - 10

EDITORIAL between the lines
full-time ats can
NO LONGER BE
OPTIONAL
By Kevin Hoffman, Editorial Director
Any time a program claims it can't
afford to hire a full-time athletic trainer,
the response is often that it can't afford
not to hire one. If we're being honest, it's
a fair retort.
No single individual holds as much
value to an athletic program. That's not
to diminish the importance of coaches,
administrators or strength professionals, but an athletic
trainer literally makes the difference between life and death
in emergency situations. Yet despite the critical role they play,
only 52% of high school coaches say they have access to a fulltime
athletic trainer, according to our annual Coaches Survey.
Among the districts without a full-time athletic trainer is
Polk County Public Schools in central Florida. In June,
14-year-old Hezekiah Walters collapsed during a summer
football conditioning program at Middleton High School.
According to reports, Walters began to vomit and seizure
before he lost consciousness and became unresponsive.
Coaches tried CPR, and paramedics later attempted to revive
him without success. He died a few hours later.
A full medical report has not been released, but Walters's
symptoms are consistent with heat stroke. The tragedy was
enough for at least one Florida athletic trainer to step up and
call for full-time medical professionals at every high school in
Polk County.
" Coaches have to take some classes every year that add up
to a couple hours of education. This is to prepare them to help
out in this situation, " wrote Lloyd Knudson, an athletic trainer
at Winter Haven High School in Florida. " The key word is help.
" We may never know if Hezekiah's death could have been
avoided if an athletic trainer was present. But we do know
that his chances of living would have been much greater, if
there was. And I'm sure Hezekiah's family, friends and loved
ones would have had some sort of closure, knowing that every
possible measure was taken to help him live. "
Knudson started a petition urging the district to make
changes, but it has not yet reached the goal of 500 signatures.
The district did make one commitment: It would purchase cold
water immersion tubs and require them at all outdoor athletics.
But there's no substitute for a full-time athletic trainer. No
product, device or fly-by-night training is going to make up
for the expertise that a certified sports medicine professional
brings to an athletic program. Schools say they're committed
to protecting their athletes, and they preach safety as their No.
1 priority, but talk is cheap. If they're not committed to putting
an athletic trainer on campus, they're failing their students.
10 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019
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EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD:
TOM BASS, Former NFL Assistant, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
& San Diego Chargers * DR. DAVID HOCH, Retired Athletic Director, Baltimore
County, MD * ABE WEHMILLER, Director of Athletics, Charlotte Country Day
School, Charlotte, NC * ALAN STEIN, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach,
Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School, MD * PETE KITTEL, Principal, Brillion
High School, WI * DARREN FENSTER, Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox
& Founder/CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC, Neptune, NJ * JOSH HILS, Soccer
Coach, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, NH * DR. BRANDEN LIPPY, Athletic
Director, Lampeter-Strasburg High School, Lancaster, PA
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September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September/October 2019

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