May 2, 2017
Here to Help

Almost everyone involved in athletics can speak to the importance of having athletic trainers at practices, games, and for everyday appointments. Unfortunately, many school districts across the country have been struggling to implement athletic training programs that truly meet these needs. And it’s even more difficult when they make the attempt in the middle of the school year.

Demopolis (Ala.) High School knew this situation all too well. According to an article from The West Alabama Watchman, administrators at the school recently made the commitment to strengthen their sports medicine services. But they weren’t sure where to go.

The first step was for high school Principal Blaine Hathcock and Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Tony Pittman to reach out to Physical Therapist Skibo Holman, MS, PT, founder of Genesis Rehab, a local physical therapy practice. From there, Holman met with R.T. Floyd, EdD, ATC, Director of Athletic Training and Sports at the University of West Alabama, to come up with a plan. After extended discussion, it was decided that the graduate students in UWA’s athletic training program would provide care for Demopolis student-athletes.

“R.T. kind of explained to me several different avenues that we could go,” Holman explained. “At this point in the year, they’re actually already busy with other schools, with other commitments that they make. However, we got all the athletic trainers together, the graduate assistants and kind of did it by committee. We laid out all the scheduling, laid out what was really most important, and between six of the graduate assistants, everybody covered somewhere on days they didn’t have something else to do. So it’s really a big commitment on their part.

“And R.T. was more than gracious in helping us figure out what you can do, what you need to stay away from, [and] how [an athletic training program] works best because he has been doing that forever,” Holman continued. “We kind of came up with a plan, saw that it would work, and over a period of two weeks probably, we got it all in place.”

The current model has UWA graduate assistant athletic trainers working on rotating days at Demopolis, ensuring that there is somebody present at each athletic event and practice. In return, Demopolis provides whatever they can to help the graduate assistant athletic trainers, including a space to work in and a golf cart to utilize at events.

While Demopolis does not pay for the services provided by UWA, the graduate assistant athletic trainers are compensated through Genesis Rehab. So far, the partnership has worked without a hitch, and the necessity of the athletic training staff has been apparent on more than one occasion.

“We’ve had events that happen that magnify why you need somebody. We had a girl hit in the mouth with a softball at a softball game that was pretty traumatic. We had somebody on campus from UWA that was standing there,” Hathcock said. “Those are things that make us feel more secure that we’re doing the right things for the kids. We’re extremely thankful to Genesis for them to be able to step up both financially and logistically to be able to manage all those things.”

As for next year, Holman has already started working on plans to have a full-time graduate assistant athletic trainer at the school to create continuity of care. Doing this will help the graduate student create better relationships with athletes and coaches, while also giving him or her the chance to care for and educate athletes.

“That person then can not just look at the reactive role when somebody gets hurt, but they can also focus on the proactive role of showing kids what to do, watching out for preinjury,” said Holman. “When you have someone there whose eyes are just dedicated to watching kids and the potential for injury, [they] can solve a lot of this on the front end.”

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