Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

BLHS looking to expand training services

February 6, 2002

Already well ahead of what most high schools in the state of Kansas have for medical trainers, Basehor-Linwood High School and the Basehor-Linwood School District have decided that more is necessary.

As the saying goes, more isn't necessarily better. But in this case it might be.

Athletic Director Joe Keeler said the safety of the student-athletes at BLHS is a top priority among administrators. Keeler also said getting a certified trainer at every varsity event is one of the goals of the administration.

"We're always looking to expand our coverage," Keeler said. "We have pretty good coverage right now, but the safety of our student-athletes is a paramount for us, and we are willing to look into any possibility that might expand that coverage."

A certified trainer attends all varsity football games, all home wrestling meets and any tournaments the school might host.

That includes the school's two major tournaments, the Bobcat Classic wrestling tournament and the Bobcat Invitational basketball tournament, and any Kansas State High School Activities Association-sanctioned events, such as a sub-state or a regional tournament.

A Lawrence doctor provides the trainers. Their services are contracted out on a per-game, per-event basis.

In addition to attending the events the school selects, trainers are at the high school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to treat and examine athletes that may require attention.

At Bonner Springs High School, training services are run basically the same way.

BSHS athletic director Garold Baker said trainers are present at every home varsity football, soccer and wrestling event.

In addition to attending those events, a trainer comes to Bonner Springs twice a week during the fall and winter seasons and once a week during the spring. Baker said he'd love to see more coverage, but it's not something he's holding his breath for.

"There's not an AD or a coach in the state that wouldn't like to have a full-time trainer," Baker said. "But the bottom line is it's too expensive."

Bonner Springs school district Superintendent Bob Van Maren said lack of funding was the main reason Bonner Springs could not expand it's training services.

"It's not very cheap in the first place," Van Maren said. "And when you consider that we're not getting much money from the state, that makes it difficult."

While Van Maren said expanding the district's training services was not an immediate priority, he also said coverage has increased in the past three years, and the district will continue to stress injury prevention.

Keeler said the staff at BLHS focuses on injury prevention, as well. He added, however, that because injuries are inevitable, the school is always looking at ways to expand their coverage.

The schools in the Kaw Valley and Huron Leagues, as well as other schools nearby, all provide the same or lesser training services as BLHS.

Presently, it appears the only step BLHS could take to improve its training staff would be to hire a full-time trainer. Doing that would be extremely costly, but district Director of Operations Don Swartz said it might be exactly what the district decides to do.

In October 2001, the school district was asked to examinewhat options it had for expanding its training services. After weeks of research, which continues today, Swartz said administrators came up with a proposal that could produce anything from what they currently have to a full-time trainer. The only question, how much can the district afford?

"Our priorities are what our priorities are," Swartz said. "Funds or lack thereof do not determine priorities. If having a trainer is a priority, then I think we'll have one."

Before reaching that conclusion, however, Swartz said the district had to consider two main things: First, is it more important to have trainers at practices or games? Secondly, is it more important to have trainers at varsity or sub-varsity events?

While no clear answer was found for the first question, the answer to the second question led only to more confusion.

Swartz said the district found if the need for a trainer is based upon heat and weather-related injuries, then it would be more necessary to have the trainer at the sub-varsity events because the coaches at that level are not as well trained in first aid.

If the nature of the injury, however, was a break or a sprain, then Swartz said they determined it would be better to have a trainer at the varsity events because varsity events yield more potential for major injuries.

"Two things cause injuries," Swartz said. "Speed and mass. At the varsity level you have a tremendous amount of both, and therefore, it would be better to have a trainer at those events."

With the district's first two questions answered, Swartz then decided to take a closer look at exactly what the school would require from a full-time trainer.

With the fall, winter and springs seasons included, Swartz's number crunching concluded that a certified trainer would need to work 524 hours during the school year to cover all varsity events. That number includes consulting three days a week.

For basically the same service, Gardner-Edgerton High School pays $54,000 a year to a full-time trainer. The school receives $10,000 from Johnson County Orthopedic as part of a partnership, but the school district pays the remaining $44,000.

At Basehor-Linwood, Swartz estimates the district would only have to spend $7,500 a year for a full-time, 20-hour-a-week trainer. The other $7,500 of the trainer's $15,000 yearly salary would be underwritten by the Kansas Center for Athletic Medicine, the practice that has contracted the trainers to BLHS thus far. Swartz reached that conclusion after several conversations with Randy Freivogel, the director of the training program in Lawrence at KCAM.

Freivogel told Swartz the practice would potentially be willing to split the trainer's salary because the doctors believe the exposure will result in referrals to the practice.

"He basically told us that it'll naturally happen," Swartz said. "He's been doing it for a while now with a number of different schools and he's seen that's what happens. Right now we're just trying to find out exactly what they will provide us with and how much it will cost us. We're thinking that $15,000 to $20,000 a year will get us what we need."

In addition to providing training services at the high school, KCAM has also been willing to help outside of the high school. If the student-athletes want to they can make the trip to Lawrence for further treatment free of charge.

One athlete who took KCAM up on this offer was senior football player and wrestler Matt Dukes. Dukes, who missed three games because of an injured hamstring during the football season, traveled to Lawrence every week for extra treatment. He said having the extra attention helped him heal much faster.

"It was a good thing for me because it helped me get back on the field faster," Dukes said. "I went over there a few times and they did more for me than icing or heating my hamstring. They did all kinds of treatments and I think if we could get that here, that'd be even better."

For every Matt Dukes at BLHS, there is probably another student-athlete with no time or desire to drive to Lawrence for more treatment.

Student-athletes like that, combined with the district's desire to provide the best care for its student-athletes, have inspired Swartz and the school district to be proactive in expanding their training services.

"It could be two weeks or it could be two months," Swartz said of when the district might get the final word on what they will have for next year. "We were hoping to have an answer before Christmas, but we don't yet. The worst case scenario is we have what we have now. And that's not too bad."

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