Picayune student athletic trainers get head start on pursuing their dreams

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 10, 2016

Brooke Walker looks into her medical kit to finish taping  V.J. Holt’s (17) ankle during a Picayune varsity football game. Photo by Taylor Welsh.

Brooke Walker looks into her medical kit to finish taping V.J. Holt’s (17) ankle during a Picayune varsity football game. Photo by Taylor Welsh.

Throughout Picayune Memorial High School’s 2016 football season, three high school students were on the sidelines fulfilling the team’s medical needs.

The use of student athletic trainers is a trend growing across the nation, Tabatha Smith, student athletic trainer supervisor, said. High school athletic teams usually get medical assistance from certified physicians, but more and more students interested in the field are stepping up to the plate, excited to take on the challenge, Smith said.

Madyson Turnage, Brooke Walker and Sarah Walker—the Tide football student athletic trainers—jumped at the opportunity to receive first-hand experience in a field they are considering pursuing after graduating from high school.

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“It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I really enjoy knowing how to help athletes cope with injuries and find the solution to their medical problems,” Turnage said.

The high school does not offer specific classes to learn how to be a trainer, so the girls took it upon themselves to meet with Smith nearly every day to learn the techniques and procedures for their duties, including taping ankles and wrists, learning proper stretches for each muscle and how to treat a number of injuries.

“Because we are not certified, we don’t diagnose the athletes, but we do give them a suggestion as to what the injury is and what they can do to treat it,” Smith said.

Brooke Walker said classes that are provided by the school, like anatomy, assist the students in understanding the basics of the body and how everything works.

Smith said when she was in high school, it was unheard of to have female athletic trainers, certified or students, but as time went by, more females showed an interest in the field.

“I am proud that these girls are showing such a dedication to the field,” Smith said. “They are women living in a man’s world on the football field, but they act professionally and do everything without interfering with the flow of the game. I am really proud of these girls.”

For student trainers, it’s an opportunity to get a head start on their experience in the field of physical therapy and training, but what they learn impacts more than just their resumes.

Turnage and Sarah Walker both play varsity softball and they both said they can take what they learned from being a student athletic trainer to the field.

“Learning all of this really helps me understand how to avoid injuries while playing. And if I do get injured, I know how to treat it the best and quickest way possible,” Sarah Walker said.

Picayune’s Head Softball Coach Kristi Mitchell said the girls’ presence on the football field also helps with their intensity when playing softball.

“Those football players are filled with intensity. Them being in that environment escalates their intensity levels and shows them how to bring that attitude and leadership to the softball field,” Mitchell said.

Turnage, a graduating senior is interested in attending Pearl River Community College to enroll in the physical therapy program. Sarah and Brooke Walker, both juniors, are excited to return to the sidelines next football season.

“We always look forward to being out there because you learn things you can’t be taught from reading a textbook,” Brooke Walker said.