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photo by Cameron Siefkes, Collegian Photographer

By Cameron Siefkes
Staff reporter

Sitting in the basement corner and through the tunnel of Stewart Field House is the Southwestern College Athletic Training Facility. Unless you are one of the 300-some student athletes, a coach or have something to do with athletic training you may never know the facility exists.

This facility is stocked with adequate tape supplies, bracing and first aid equipment. However, the facility itself could not operate if this is the only thing it was used for.

Athletic training is an allied health care profession which is on the move. An athletic trainer does not just tape and give out water. They are there from the start of an athletic injury to the very end of the injury. These individuals practice medicine along the six domain lines: prevention of injuries, clinical evaluations and diagnosis, immediate care of injuries, treatment-rehabilitation-reconditioning, organization and administration and professional development. Therefore, if you where thinking along the lines of the guy who works in the gym to get you fit, then you are thinking the wrong way. He is a personal trainer.

Let’s take it from an athlete’s point of view. Tyler Lampert, a physical education senior, said, “¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬It is an individual who is qualified to treat, rehabilitate and evaluate athletic injuries acquired by athletes.”

If you are someone that is not involved with athletic training you might think along these lines. “An athletic trainer is someone who provides support, care and encouragement for athletes,” said Elyse Byram, philosophy & religious studies senior.

Both of them are correct. Athletic trainers are board certified and licensed individuals. They not only work at colleges for various teams, but they are professionals in clinics, corporate factories, the military and even theater and performing arts. Therefore, not only do they treat athletic injuries, but these individuals practice in on the job injuries and various others.

Southwestern is equipped with an athletic training education program, which is one of 14 accredited programs within the state of Kansas. Athletic training students spend numerous hours on the courts and fields watching practices and games. While at the same time they develop proficiencies and competencies with in the domains set up by a commission of accreditation.

Many people see the hours spent watching practices and games as time wasted, but the only way to learn the full process is to be there from start to finish. Within the Athletic training education program there are six seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen.

Lisa Braun, the director of athletic training education, said, “Their role is to observe and learn from the upperclassmen and certified athletic trainers, and to practice the skills they are being taught.”

The students at Southwestern observe in various health care facilities from orthopedic clinics in Wichita to the emergency room at William Newton Hospital in Winfield. Through this they experience the health care profession in many different aspects and develop knowledge of team effort. In fact, the National Athletic Training Association’s theme for their promotion month of March is “Sports safety is a team effort.”

This implies that in order for an injured athlete to get back to his or her normal competing self, it takes more than just a doctor. It takes the doctor, the athletic trainer, the radiologist and the therapist. This is leaving out some professions, but it takes proper communication to correctly assist the injured player. Amanda Beadle, head athletic trainer said, “When a student athlete is injured and SC’s athletic training staff is in need of additional support we are capable of getting appointments usually within 24-72 hours. With such a quick turn around on diagnosis we are able to not only return student athletes sooner, but also able to alert coaches to potential holes in their line ups and for how long they should expect that student athlete to be out.”

In these instances the athletic trainer helps out in many different aspects. Here is one example. When someone roles their ankle, it might just be a simple sprain. The athletic trainer could rule out possible fracture at no medical cost to the athlete. When there is no athletic trainer this athlete might go to emergency room and pay expensive costs for the fees and x-rays. They not only spend a ton of money, but they also crowded the emergency room with something that is not an emergency.

Another example is one people do not like to think of. What happens when an athlete is practicing in the heat and they go out with a heat stroke? If no one, including coaches, does not know what to do the athlete may die. This can be prevented if a trained individual is there watching practice, and this is why institutions are hiring athletic trainers. It not only reduces liabilities, but it can save a person’s life in emergency situations.

In this month of March, take time to help the athletic trainers celebrate National Athletic Training Month. Sports safety is a team effort; it takes not only the athlete, coach and athletic trainer, but also proper communication from everyone to make sure the risks are low and individuals can develop to their best competition levels.