Bradley Central High School students are getting experience in athletic training by applying what they learn in class to helping the football team before and during games.
It’s a timely tradition as the gridiron Bears take to the field tonight against the Soddy-Daisy Trojans in what will be the 1,000th football game in the long history of BCHS academics and athletics. Kickoff is at 7:30 from Bear Stadium.
The school’s health science teacher Drew German said he wanted to provide students a real-life opportunity to practice what they are learning in the classroom.
“When I learned that I would learn how to actually serve teams ... it was really cool because I thought that would be experience I wouldn’t get until I was in college,” junior Jacob Williams said.
When the student athletic trainers are on duty, they help players prepare for the game by bringing them towels and water and helping tape their wrists to avoid injury. Sometimes they help the student athletes stretch before a game.
“We tape wrists and ankles before the games, fill ice buckets and water buckets, attend to students while they are out on the field ... people get injured, we help them up off the field to the sidelines,” junior Alec Norwood said.
In preparation for halftime, the student athletic trainers cut up fruit and prepare Gatorade.
The athletic trainer students are also there, under the direction of an adult athletic trainer and German, in case something goes wrong.
“If someone passes out on the sidelines, they are the first line of defense,” German said. “We work very closely with Dr. (Gary) Voytik and his staff.”
As a football player, Williams said preparation went faster with the student athletic trainers helping.
Many students said they were nervous their first time on the sidelines.
Norwood said the first time he was unsure if the football players would respect the students.
“It’s one thing to respect somebody with a degree who has been to school for it, let alone a student who is younger than you,” Norwood said. “But I really got taken in by the team. They really respect the students doing this.”
Sophomore Marvin Gargan said he felt the opportunity would be challenging.
“I’ve never been in something fast-paced like this,” Gargan said. “The more you do it, the better you get at it.”
While sophomore Jessica Taylor felt really nervous on the first night, she felt prepared for the opportunity. She said she liked having the opportunity to apply what she has learned.
Sophomore McKenzie Gibby said it was challenging to stay out of the players’ way, yet be accessible to the players when needed.
“They are very busy on Friday nights,” German said. “The football players have been very appreciative.”
German said he would like to see the number of interested students grow.
Students qualified for this opportunity by completing their safety, OSHA and blood-borne pathogen tests in class.
“The majority of these students want to go on to a career in physical therapy or athletic training, physical therapy assistant. Some want to be surgeons, but I feel they are all getting good experience working with athletes, working with patients,” German said.
Participating in this aspect of the class is optional, German said.
German plans to have the students help with other sports throughout the school year.
“We had 10 who wanted to do football, four who wanted to do basketball, and then a few who wanted to do everything,” German said. “Then three wanted to do wrestling.”
Student athletic trainers are assigned a game to work and are required to find another student to cover for them, if possible. Six students work home games and five work the away games.