The work of a high school athletic trainer is so much more than ice packs and bandages—it's all about the prevention, recognition and treatment of the injuries sustained by competitive student athletes.
They are the unsung heroes as the winning shot is taken or the hail-Mary catch is made in the end zone.
Shay Brown has been at Oswego East High School for four years as the athletic trainer. She also works full-time as a physical education and sports medicine teacher. Brian Cronin is over at Oswego High School, where he also teaches physical education, sports medicine and driver's education.
“I knew I wanted to make an impact on young people,” said Brown. “And I’ve always been leaning towards education to do that.”
Cronin found his calling for sports medicine after he suffered an injury back in high school while on his football team.
“The trainer at my school helped me out and got my interest," he said.
The athletic trainers work every day of the week, from early in the morning all the way to the late evening as they cover home games.
“I consider it a good day if I get home by 7:30 p.m.,” laughed Brown.
The trainers help to tape the players up before practices and games, are on hand with ice and stay on the sidelines during games to assess injuries and problems. The Oswego trainers are also contracted to travel with the varsity football team to away games.
“I love being in the action on the sidelines,” Brown said. “And I also love knowing that I’m impacting some student in some way to become interested in the physical education or sports medicine field.”
Cronin enjoys the opportunity of getting to know students outside of a classroom setting.
“You get to know the kids," he said. "There’s not quite as a strict relationship between the trainers and the kids. Even if you had one of the kids in a class and they then come into the training room, you’re a little less strict, more laid-back.”
Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busiest days for the trainers, with a lot of games being played then. Cronin said District 308 has been good about having only football games fall on Friday nights, which gives the athletic trainers and their assistant athletic trainers a bit of a breather.
A typical day, Cronin and Brown both described, starts with getting up and being at the school around 7 a.m. to prepare for their respective classes. At 2:30 p.m., the athletic training room doors open and it’s time to tape up the players and do any evaluations required.
Then it’s covering practices and games, which sometimes end very late, to make sure that all of the student athletes remain healthy and safe.
“Ice, bandages … we have it all,” said Brown. “We do our best to steer the student in the right direction and get them the help they need. If it’s a more serious problem, we help refer them to the right doctor.”