Help­ing to ease the pain

Team train­ers bring ben­e­fits in football's first week

The Covington News - - Sports - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

New­ton, Al­covy and East­side’s coaches and play­ers took the spot­light of Fri­day Night Lights as the Ge­or­gia High School football sea­son got un­der way this past week­end.

But all the credit doesn’t go en­tirely to those in the Ea­gles, Rams and Tigers uni­forms and em­blem–laden coach’s polo shirts. Some of it goes to the New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter Pres­i­dent Jim Wead­ick and the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion for a part­ner­ship reached on Aug. 14.

On that date, more than two weeks be­fore the start of the 2012 sea­son, the BOE voted 5-0 to pro­vide a cer­ti­fied ath­letic trainer to each school un­der the guid­ance of team physi­cian Dr. Re­nee Ri­ley of Ge­or­gia Or­tho­pe­dics and Sports Medicine.

A cer­ti­fied trainer be­ing on hand at each game, com­pared to train­ers pro­vided by the schools them­selves in the past, proved a big ad­van­tage both dur­ing the games and in the week that now fol­lows.

“Hav­ing Dr. Ri­ley and her PA Vicki Porter was a much needed thing Fri­day,” East­side coach Rick Hurst said.

East­side had play­ers go down with a knee in­jury, a ham­string in­jury and a con­cus­sion, and the med­i­cal staff was nearby to tend to the in­juries and re­late the di­ag­no­sis to both the player and Hurst.

The same thing oc­curred dur­ing Al­covy’s game Thurs­day night as a Tiger went down with an in­jury that was quickly seen by Dr. Ri­ley.

In the past, an in­jury would re­quire a coach to see what was wrong with the par­tic­u­lar player but Thurs­day and Fri­day, it was a cer­ti­fied doc­tor able to of­fer a more

pre­cise an­swer.

“She can di­ag­nose,” Al­covy coach Kirk Hoffman said. “It keeps the game go­ing with a pretty good flow. If it would have been me try­ing to di­ag­nose it, who knows.”

Not only were Thurs­day and Fri­day night’s in­juries pre­lim­i­nar­ily di­ag­nosed on the field but the play­ers were tended to more quickly than in the past.

“We have al­ways had med­i­cal per­son­nel on the side­line, but be­ing that they are con­nected to the hospi­tal di­rectly sure is a plus,” Hurst sad. “They can give a pre­lim­i­nary di­ag­no­sis on the field, and then early the next week, get them in to the hospi­tal if needed for more eval­u­a­tion.”

The ath­letic train­ers work with the play­ers throughout the week tend­ing to con­cus­sions, mi­nor in­juries and heat ex­haus­tion-type symp­toms at prac­tices. They also of­fer treat­ments such as taped an­kles and mus­cle cramp re­lief.

The train­ers also make nec­es­sary de­ci­sions re­gard­ing the need for treat­ment, eval­u­a­tion by a physi­cian and how fast they can re­turn to play. The of­fice of Ge­or­gia Or­tho­pe­dics and Sports Medicine is also avail­able to eval­u­ate an ath­lete — usu­ally within 24 hours.

“The health and safety of our students is a num­ber one pri­or­ity,” said NCSS Su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews in a re­cent press re­lease. “An ath­letic trainer pro­gram is much needed and long over­due so it goes with­out say­ing that we ap­pre­ci­ate Mr. Wead­ick and Dr. Ri­ley for of­fer­ing this pro­gram to our dis­trict free of charge. This ges­ture is in­dica­tive of the sup­port New­ton Med­i­cal has pro­vided our dis­trict over the years. Our lo­cal hospi­tal is def­i­nitely an out­stand­ing part­ner in ed­u­ca­tion.”

The train­ers have not only al­ready proven valu­able to coaches and play­ers but par­ents know that their sons are in well-trained and ca­pa­ble hands.

“It is a great bless­ing to have Dr. Ri­ley and her staff at our games and work­ing closely with our pro­gram,” New­ton coach Cortez Allen said. “She has been work­ing with our kids for about three weeks now and I know our par­ents are thank­ful and so am I.”

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

A New­ton County player is tack­led by two East­side de­fend­ers in a jar­ring, but in­jury-free tackle on Fri­day. Play­ers who are injured are now tended to each team’s own ath­letic trainer un­der the guid­ance of New­ton County School Sys­tem team physi­cial Dr. Re­nee Ri­ley.

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