September/October 2020 - 44

" Athletic trainers are there during the injury, the worst moment of a student-athlete's
experience. They are also there for the successful return to playing the spot. ATs love to be
part of that student-athlete centric community. "
paperwork as they must document
every treatment and injury. It can
be a lonely position. ADs should pay
special attention to their ATs and the
unique demands of their job.
Here are four things to bolster
the relationship between athletic
administrators and athletic trainers.
1. ATs Are Eyes & Ears
Athletic trainers are skilled
observers of movement and
behavior. Students learn in Sports
Medicine courses that one of their
goals is to train themselves to
subconsciously analyze human
movement, which carries over to
behavior. Long-time athletic trainer
instructor, Flecicia Heise at Palomar
College (CA), teaches AT students
they are metaphorical flies on the
wall. ATs may very well be one of the
first to suspect when student-athletes
are hurting physically or emotionally.
In considering a return to campus
following the nationwide COVID-19
response, this characteristic is
going to be more important in
monitoring the wellbeing of our
student-athletes.
ADs and coaches should tap into
their ATs as sources of insight into
their student-athletes. Simply asking
an AT what they are observing
about a student-athlete can yield
perspective and information that can
guide a coach's interactions with that
student-athlete. ADs should vouch
and validate the insight of their ATs
to coaches when questions arise
about student-athlete well-being. This
requires ADs to be well-versed in
current best practices when it comes
to student-athlete health and training.
ADs do not need to be experts, that
is what the AT has been hired for.
ADs must be informed enough to
carry on an authentic conversation
about student-athlete safety matters
and recognize when their ATs are
operating in their expertise.
The difficult job of an AT can be
44 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020
made even harder if their AD does not
vouch for and validate their expertise.
2. ATs Are on An Island
Secondary schools commonly
have a single AT providing sports
medicine services.
Furthermore, ATs in schools that
field hundreds of student-athletes every
competitive season will be limited
in how much individualized patient
care they can provide. The natural
personality and tendency of ATs is selfsacrifice.
Ellis Mair, Vice President of
Medicine at Go4Ellis, stated that ATs
contracted through their on-demand
platform accounted for over 5,500
personnel hours across the nation in
response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that is just in the month of
April! Many, if not most, of those
ATs traded treating student-athletes
for coronavirus patients. ATs aim to
please those whom they serve - and
ATs do view their vocation as a serviceoriented
health care profession.
One of the weaknesses of many
ATs is to shy away from saying no. In
some cases, one AT is responsible
for many logistics and tasks that
could easily be delegated to others
(e.g. filling water coolers) This
creates space in an ATs day so
they can increase the quality of the
care provided to student-athletes.
Likewise, the AT may be expected
to be on-site anytime a team is
practicing, including weekends.
Spread across three competitive
seasons, this expectation will rapidly
lead to burnout and/or family strain.
ADs should empower ATs to assign
out logistical tasks to coaches,
or ADs should even take over the
assignments themselves asking head
coaches to utilize their assistants
and student managers. When an AT
senses their AD is protecting them
and that coaches are supporting
them, it will have a positive impact
on the quality of care the AT will
provide to student-athletes. ATs may
be on an island, but it does not mean
that ADs and coaches can't join them
on that island.
3. Too Tough, Too Soft
A significant yet enjoyable
challenge in a secondary school
setting is in working with younger
student-athletes. A pediatric
population presents the tripartite
challenge of understanding injuries
that are developmentally influenced
(such as Osgood-Schlatter Disease),
ensuring appropriate conditioning
and workload parameters, and
discerning pain perception in these
young student-athletes. Especially
in middle school-aged children,
or those who are very new to
organized athletics, interpreting,
and describing pain can be difficult.
They often do not have the history
or context to understand the pain
they are experiencing, and whether
it means that they are injured or
not. This means that the AT walks
a fine line of underappreciating an
injury or being too soft on these
young student-athletes and having
to communicate this to parents and
coaches. It is a tricky and sometimes
stressful proposition.
ADs need to demonstrate trust in
the professional opinion of ATs in
very public ways. Strong statements
such as affirmation for their expertise
or unyielding commitment to the
expertise of the AT in front of the
coaching staff can alleviate the
stress that ATs feel when diagnosing
student-athletes in discomfort.
Highlighting the ATs expertise in
board meetings or presenting the AT
in parent meetings as the expert on
campus regarding student-athlete
safety are small steps that bring big
returns for the AD-AT relationship.
4. Appreciation is Feedback
Providing patient care to
student-athletes, communicating
with various stakeholders, and

September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September/October 2020

September/October 2020 - 1
September/October 2020 - 2
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