Posted on March 11, 2002 in News
By Elise Adams
They are seen on the sidelines at games and practices, always ready with bandages and tape or bags of ice. They are the first ones to the mound when the pitcher grabs his shoulder. They are the ones seen helping the injured athlete through exercises to strengthen her muscles.
They are athletic trainers. March is National Athletic Training Month, established in 2001 by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
The roles of the athletic trainer are varied and crucial for the sports programs at USM, as well as more traditional applications. They range from preventative medicine, rehabilitation and reconditioning, to referral to specialists and promotion of the profession. They also play a role on the Eating Issues Advisory Committee in conjunction with University Health Services.
The athletic training staff at USM consists of Head Athletic Trainer Matt Gerken, Assistant Athletic Trainers Pam DeLancey and Carol Nelson as well as Faculty Clinical Instructors Kara Haring and Jay Myers. Haring and Myers are faculty of the Sports Medicine department, offering support services to the athletic training staff.
The athletic training staff is responsible for being present at every sport’s practices and home games, as well as away tournament and playoff games. However, three people are often not enough to cover all sports, particularly with the increasing number of varsity sports over the past few years.
“It’s not enough, really,” said Gerken. DeLancey was hired in 1999, and Nelson last year.
“I pushed for two [last year], and settled for one,” he said. “And I struggled to get her.”
The tightening of the school budget, particularly in the past year, has made expanding the staff difficult if not impossible.
“We have half as many ATs as we should,” said DeLancey. She also expressed that many athletic trainers, not just at USM, are overworked and national efforts are being made to help that problem.
And it’s not only ATs that are being affected. Other medical-related workers such as CNAs, who may lack the recognition of a doctor or registered nurse, are in a similar situation.They all deal with a shortage of worker in their profession.
This may be attributable to a lower pay scale, or unfavorable portrayal in films such as Varsity Blues or Any Given Sunday.
“We work hard at what we do,” says DeLancey. “We truly care about the athletes; it’s not just a job. We get in because we enjoy it, but not for the money.”