Student athletic trainers hit the ground running in 2018


By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill student athletic trainers are a dedicated group. Through long hours, various weather conditions and without much recognition they are constantly working. They show up before practices and are often the last ones to leave.

Even with all that, it remains one of the most popular and fastest growing student organizations at Liberty Hill High School.

For the 2018 season, most policy and procedures have remained intact, but the program has added a new concussion protocol to help keep athletes safe.

“For our student athletic trainers, we have not really changed anything, but for our athletic program we have added online concussion baselines,” said Head Athletic Trainer Melissa Harrington.

“When a student athlete does get a concussion, we have a baseline to go on. Every student-athlete will take a test beforehand and if they get a concussion they will retake that test. Before they can return to play they have to return to their baseline, so we can make sure they have properly healed.”

Seniors are always an important part of what the student athletic training program does, and Harrington believes she has two of the best leading the charge this season.

“We have two seniors, Jacqui Perry and Blaine Richardson, with us this year and we pretty much let them run the program outside of taking care of injuries, diagnosing and that type of stuff,” she said.

“They have a list of jobs to do every day and they make sure that those things get done. That makes all our lives a lot easier because it frees us up to take care of kids. They take care of a lot of our daily work and every now and then we get an injury where we can teach them some good stuff. We have such a great group of kids this year and they are all amazing.”

The program has been a constant draw for students who want to get involved once they reach the high school level and Harrington is proud of that.

“We have 23 student athletic trainers right now at the high school level and our junior high program has seven right now,” she said.

“We are hoping to get a few more for this year at the junior high level. We are one of the only places that has a junior high program and we are proud of that.”

Student athletic trainers get started on their fall duties just as the athletes are heading back to practice for two-a-days. There is training that must be completed before they can get out on the field or court for their respective sports.

“We got started August 1 because we went through deep cleaning of the athletic training room,” she said.

“We got all their clothes issued and then we did two days of training. We teach them what we expect at football practice, how to make Gatorade, fill up water towels, etc. We go over the basic first aid and make sure they know the hands only CPR. They learn basic rehab and how to assist on splinting. We have a whole curriculum we go through prior to the athletes coming in because those are things they need to know. We can’t have kids out there that don’t know what to do in some capacity. We go over our emergency action plans. We also give them the rules about confidentiality and social media. We go through a pretty comprehensive program before we get the year started.”

This is Harrington’s second year as the head of the program and it is important to her that she builds a rapport with every trainer.

“Most of the kids have seen me for three years or they are kids that have come in under me,” she said.

“Doc did a fantastic job with the program before me, but they were still his kids. Now they our becoming our staff’s kids and they are funny, fun and amazing human beings. Our former student trainers were great as well, but this is a class that is funny and loves to laugh. They just want to come in work hard and have a few laughs.”

In Liberty Hill, excellence is the standard across the board and Harrington expects her trainers to uphold that. She is proud of the work they do and holds each one dedicating their time and effort in high regard. They know that what they do can affect the performance of their classmates on the field, so it is not a job they take lightly.

“We expect our student trainers to be the best in the district and of anyone we are across the sideline from,” she said.

“Our job is to help coaches win and they can’t do that if players are overheated or dehydrated. If we lose because we lose a player to dehydration or cramps, then we believe that is our fault. It is very humbling to see the kids rise to your expectations. We give them as set of rules and they will rise to it almost every time. I feel like I have the best kids in our school because they often get no recognition. The fact that people are starting to recognize us makes me so proud of our kids and how hard they work. They present themselves professionally and that will translate into their lives after high school.”

Everyone on the training staff is looking forward to the 2018 fall athletic season.

“We really worked hard this summer to do some good things,” she said.

“We have fantastic coaches that work well with us. In some places coaches can give you a hard time, but at Liberty Hill they respect us and make our jobs easy. We are blessed to be where we are, and we look forward to the ride wherever our athletic programs take us in 2018.”