Athletic Trainers: An Endangered Species at McKendree


By Andrew Gardewine, Contributing Writer

With over 600 student athletes it’s hard to find someone who is not part of a sports team at McKendree. If you step into any classroom and ask if there are any athletes in the class, chances are around half of the them will raise their hand. McKendree boasts 34 different sports teams, but of course with these many teams comes pains and injuries with the athletes. That is where our athletic trainers come in.

Our trainers are hard working and dedicated in what they do and each are assigned specific teams to provide therapy. Many of the trainers are given multiple teams to take care of, meaning that in many cases one trainer could potentially have to provide therapy for around  100 different athletes each day. This is due to the fact that we only have 9 trainers on campus, which is clearly not a lot considering the amount of teams and athletes we have.

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Many of you and even I, reading this don’t understand the difficulties and frustration our trainers may experience each day. One trainer, Maggie Vihovde, said, “You don’t know how many times I have someone come in with a new injury saying they didn’t come in sooner because they thought it would just go away. Most of their injuries could have been prevented if they would have just come in for therapy before it got too bad.” People like this just make their jobs more difficult and I can only imagine how frustrating it can be to hear the same excuse for injuries on a daily basis.

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Other difficulties trainers face is the communication with the coaches of sports they provide therapy for. Sometimes coaches feel they know what’s best for their athletes when it comes to their aches and pains, when they really just need to let the trainers do their job. They also have to communicate practice times so that the sport specific trainer can be available in case of an emergency, but that isn’t always easy due to time conflicts.

Doing this day in and day out can be exhausting for our trainers and the main issue is that we simply don’t have enough of them. Most of our trainers work over 8 hours a day, sometimes without any breaks. But why don’t they just hire more trainers? One trainer, who’s name will not be disclosed said, “Lance (the head athletic trainer) has asked if we could hire more trainers, but our athletic director refuses to hire a new AT or pay for a new grad assistant.” This trainer even went on to say that they planned on transferring to another school because of how exhausting each day can be here.

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I can understand wanting to save money and perhaps it isn’t in the schools budget to provide extra trainers for our sports teams, but spending millions of dollars to help fund the building of the McKendree Metro Rec Plex was? The complex only helped with a couple teams, but hiring more trainers could help every team by providing therapy to athletes much more efficiently. Now, I’m not blaming or meaning to be rude towards the teams that the complex was built for, it’s nice that the hockey, swim, and diving teams have a place much closer to practice at; but couldn’t some of that money have gone towards other things that would be cheaper and perhaps more beneficial to a larger group of students?

I think it’s great that we keep adding new sports here at McKendree and continue to grow, but along with these teams comes more athletes and a heavier load for our trainers that our administrators may not think about. If we keep adding more teams without hiring more trainers the ones we have now could each be working around 3 teams and up to over 100 athletes per day More trainers will be beneficial to both the athletes and the trainers themselves. It would allow athletes to receive treatment much faster and lessen the load of the trainers we have now.

 

Photo 1: An athletic trainer giving therapy to an athlete, photo credit – nwc.edu

Photo 2: Calf Therapy, photo credits – acuphysio.com

Photo 3: The McKendree Metro Rec Plex, photo credit – ​metrorecplex.com