Aug 15, 2018
Ready, Set, Go
Maria Hutsick

Most college and high school athletic trainers are either just wrapping up preseason or in the early stages of the fall season. This time of year can be very arduous and demanding. In a lot of ways, it sets the tone for the rest of the year. So how should you prepare?

For starters, hopefully you placed your supply orders in the late spring, and they are ready for you to sort out before the school year starts. The preparticipation physicals, waivers for consent to treat, insurance paperwork, drug testing forms (for college), and any other forms that you require should be filled out.

When I was at Boston University, we would start to get ready about a week prior to the athletes arriving on campus. We used to go away to a prep school in Maine for football training camp, so preparation was very important.

To make sure everyone from the coaches to the athletic training student aides are prepared for an emergency, I make sure everyone has the town emergency numbers in their phones. We’ve found that calling 911 on a cell phone directs us to the state police, which takes too long and is confusing.

At the high school I work for now, I started to prepare toward the end of July. Since the summer has had so much humidity and heat, I took extra steps for preseason. These included:

  • I ordered a 50-foot hose to be connected at the practice field for football.
  • I kept a supply of towels to use for ice towels.
  • I offered Gatorade for all teams after practices. They know if any cups are found on the ground or in the hallways, they will lose this special treat. I have not had to shut it down yet.
  • Weigh-in before and after practice during preseason.
  • Set up a tub to cool down athletes and showers with chairs in them for cooling.
  • My Gator is all cleaned and organized with all emergency equipment.
  • I wrote a letter for my athletic director to send to all fall coaches reminding them about the importance of hydration. It also reminds them of their responsibility to make sure they have a cell phone and emergency numbers in the phone, are CPR and first aid certified, have an automated external defibrillator with them at their practice field, and offer plenty of water and a shady place.

Besides preparing for the heat, I informed my athletic training student aides of the time to report for preseason and the dress code. In addition, I ordered sports medicine shirts for my students to wear for pictures and games.

To make sure everyone from the coaches to the athletic training student aides are prepared for an emergency, I make sure everyone has the town emergency numbers in their phones. We’ve found that calling 911 on a cell phone directs us to the state police, which takes too long and is confusing.

Our coaches are teachers for the most part and respect the fact that their athletes are high school students who are here for fun and love of the game. Some may think about college scholarships but most are realistic. In light of the scandals at the college football level, my athletic director, principal, and coaches are aware of the consequences of pushing too hard in hot weather.

The athletic trainer at my school is the leader and in command of all the health and welfare of the athletes. I work closely with the school nurses. The coaches and parents are aware of this and respect my position. It can be hard to deal with people who don’t respect your authority, but remember that you are the medical expert and must provide protection and be proactive for your student-athletes.

My biggest tips for the preseason/early fall season are to be well-organized, have good communication, and review all of your emergency action plans and concussion protocols with everyone involved with athletics. And don’t forget to take care of yourself! Remember to hydrate and wear protection from the sun.


Maria Hutsick, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, is Head Athletic Trainer at Medfield (Mass.) High School and former Director of Sports Medicine at Boston University. She is a past president of the College Athletic Trainers' Society and was honored with an NATA Athletic Trainer Service Award in 2010. She can be reached at: [email protected].


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