Oct 5, 2021
Citrus County Reviewing Stance of Full-Time High School ATCs Following Player’s Death

A Florida school district may rethink its stance on employing full-time, on-site athletic trainers for practices and games following the unexpected death of a 16-year-old football player during practice last week.

According to a report from The Citrus County Chronicle, the Citrus County School District does not employ athletic trainers, but in 2008, a proposal came to the school board and was turned down. While the cause of death is unknown and the Citrus High School board has launched an investigation into the incident, school officials are likely to ponder again whether to review its stance on hiring athletic trainers.

citrusBelow is an excerpt from The Citrus County Chronicle.

School districts in surrounding Marion, Sumter, and Levy counties employ athletic trainers to oversee practices and games. Citrus and Hernando County do not.

“The reason we have them is for situations like this,” said Kalee Wade, Levy County’s risk manager when discussing the death with the Chronicle.

“We just thought it was better for our athletes. We’re very pleased with the program,” she said.

Jonny Bishop is the assistant superintendent of business and support services for Citrus County’s school district.

In 2008, he spearheaded a school board workshop presentation for his boss, Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel, presenting the benefits of athletic trainers and requesting the board’s support to move forward.

He didn’t get what he wanted.

Instead, Bishop received a lukewarm reception and some tentative support if he could shift money from other programs, according to a tape of the workshop reviewed by the Chronicle.

Bishop warned the 2008 board that schools had no mechanism to provide medical oversight during sports practices and that hiring athletic trainers would provide that benefit.

He explained that 75% of injuries occur during practice. Bishop also told the school board that athletic trainers, at other districts, have had to provide medical care to his schools’ athletes during away games.

He told the board that he conducted a survey of other school districts and of the 38 that responded, 28 had athletic trainers.

School board member Linda Powers during the workshop told Bishop she thought coaches had basic medical training.

Bishop responded they didn’t beyond first aid.

“Their knowledge is limited,” he replied.

Bishop went on to say, “I think what’s most important is to provide that first responder care,” citing that athletic trainers could do just that.

The plan would have been to have athletic trainers at as many sports practices and games as possible, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball.

Himmel also warned the board that other counties were hiring them and wanted Citrus to do the same.

“We got districts calling us now saying they will not schedule us (for games) anymore if we don’t have (athletic) trainers,” Himmel said during the workshop.

Bishop said the startup costs for athletic trainers for the district’s three high schools would be about $185,000 and then $125,000 annually following that first year.

“Ultimately, I’d like to get some direction from you as a board as to whether or not we pursue the (issue) further or hold off or whatever,” he said.

On the tape, an unidentified school staffer told the board that an athletic trainer’s focus would be the welfare of the student-athlete while a coach is sometimes more focused on the practice.

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That staff person told the board that the school district needed a medical person on-site.

For the board, this issue boiled down to cost.

“I’m not opposed to doing this. I’m just opposed to spending more money,” said board member Pat Deutschman, who is no longer on the board.

To read the full story from The Citrus County Chronicle, click here

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