Relying on sports for a pathway to college, or wanting discipline and structure, athletes nationwide have been impacted due to the global pandemic, COVID–19. In order to compete, athletes must follow UIL and local health officials’ guidelines. To fully ensure the safety of all coaches and athletes, the athletic training staff has made several adjustments to the way they care for the athletes.
“Across the nation I’ve seen that they have been utilizing athletic trainers in a different aspect of our scope of practice,” athletic trainer Megan Ruble said. “The changes seemed stressful, but it is already our job to keep the athletes and students as safe as possible.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University Interscholastic League (UIL) mandated that athletic trainers would not allow athletes to share water bottles or allow anyone to touch water sources to control the spread of COVID–19. As a result, athletic trainers Wareham and Ruble construct touchless water sources for fall sports.
“It was definitely a team effort to get the job done,” athletic trainer Robert Wareham said. “Ruble found and ordered the pedals and I put the apparatus together using 2×4 boards, water tubing, and cable ties. The final product could definitely use some refining, but I think it fits our purposes very well.”
Along with adjustments to the way athletes hydrate, the way physical therapy operates has changed also. Social distancing is practiced in the way that only six athletes are in the training room for treatment. Athletes now use QR codes to schedule physical therapy sessions.
“It is incredibly challenging to maintain social distances while also being a functional Sports Medicine program,” Wareham said. “We have had to adjust the way we do things quite a bit though in order to be as safe as possible. So far, the transition has worked pretty well.”
New safety protocols have also been introduced. At any practice or game where they have contact with athletes, student trainers are required to wear protective masks, goggles, and gloves.
“While none of the changes were major they are needed,” sophomore Breanne Vaughn said. “I’m glad we have them because I have a family at home to think about and the possibility of getting someone else sick.”
The athletic training team continues to focus on doing their part in hopes of all sports having a complete and safe season.
“I believe that as trainers we need to help prevent and stop the spread at COVID–19 as much as we possibly can,” senior Hannah Martin said. “We need to establish different ways of doing our job, so our players are still able to play and have their seasons.”