Alamance-Burlington school board members also heard this week from five speakers – three of whom are candidates in this year’s school board race – urging them to hire high school athletic trainers for the 2022-23 school year that begins Monday (see related story).
Sean Quinn, who lives at 631 Olsen Drive and works as the athletic director at Western High School, said athletic trainers have become a necessity in recent years. “Due to players being bigger faster and stronger, sports are more dangerous than ever,” he told the board Monday night. “I have seen kids pass out on the field. I feel no shame in stating that I feel inadequate at those moments.”
Anne Liese Call, of 2016 Aramanche Drive in Burlington, recalled Monday night how she had pleaded a year ago for ABSS to hire certified athletic trainers.
“On March 17 of 2021, I came perilously close to living every parent’s worst nightmare,” Call said Monday night. “My son suffered a concussion on the fourth play of his football game, and although he experienced obvious signs of concussion, he was never taken out of the game and continued to battle through 67 more plays with a significant brain injury.”
Call recalled this week taking her son to the Duke Sports Medicine Concussion Center the morning after the game, and being told it was a miracle the boy was sitting there. “It is only by the grace of God that he did not die on that field due to, in the doctor’s words, ‘negligence and lack of acute medical care.’
“A year later,” Call added, “we are still seeing residual effects of this concussion. I cannot and will not stay silent for the countless students who remain vulnerable to serious and life-threatening injury.
“It is past time for ABSS to provide certified athletic trainers,” Call urged. “The athletes desperately need trainers [who] are specifically trained in sports-related injuries [and] are more apt to recognize the signs and symptoms of athletes in motion…An independent trainer has one job: to protect the safety of the players on the field and prevent further injury.”
Call said a recent study had shown that “the re-injury rate at high schools without a certified athletic trainer” is 60 percent but drops to 3 percent at schools with such trainers. (She didn’t note the source for the study.)
Former state house representative and Alamance County commissioner Dan Ingle, of 6388 Rascoe Road in Burlington – one of the school board candidates who spoke Monday night, told school board members that, as a volunteer coach at Hawfields Middle School, “I’ve seen the need personally in terms of concussion protocol.”
Ingle recalled during a female student athlete who had started showing symptoms of heat stroke, as well as a player who’d been “pretty severely injured” during a football game at Eastern High School. He said that, while EMS personnel are generally “close by” during athletic practices and games, it still took eight to 10 minutes for someone to arrive on scene. “We need to make sure these young people have the protection [they] need,” Ingle said during the public comments period Monday night.
Leonard Harrison, of 3161 Fieldstone Lane in Mebane, who is also running for one of three open seats on the school board, said that, as a lifelong athlete, he believes, “Physical training is necessary.
“A lot of these kids are looking to go to college, and that’s the vehicle they are looking to use so that they can provide for their family rather than being in poverty,” Harrison told the board Monday night. “They understand how well they can take care of themselves if they follow a strict guideline that a physical [therapist] can provide for them…[It’s] imperative we take the time to look for the money that we can make sure this can happen.”
Charles Parker, of 3924 Grace Meadow Court in Mebane, who is also running for a seat on the school board this year, encouraged the board to find a way to fund athletic trainers.
“It’s just a matter of weighing competing budget needs, but it’s really a safety issue,” Parker said Monday night. “You wouldn’t swim in a pool without a lifeguard.”
School board members said later in their meeting that they may resume their discussion about hiring high school athletic trainers during a special-called school board meeting scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 30.
Also during the public comments portion of their meeting this week, school board members heard from several other speakers, including four current and former substitute teachers who asked the board to consider increasing the daily pay rates for substitutes.