BOZEMAN — They’re the part of the school's athletic staff you never think about or don’t want to think about, but athletic trainers are there in critical moments.
“To be there and help out their kids, no matter what school they are, that’s really the essence of athletic training, that’s the best part," said Belgrade High trainer Matt Hoskins.
Just like most professions, their job has changed a bit due to COVID-19.
“We are obviously sterilizing our equipment, maybe a little bit more thoroughly than maybe previously before," Hoskins said. "Wiping down between every athlete and trying our best to keep the environment a sterile environment.”
It has also made them be less hands-on than usual.
“I think for athletic trainers it’s tough because it’s such a one-on-one entity, we want to get in and work with our athletes individually," said Bozeman High trainer Mark Meredith. "It makes it tough to do that, we have to take all the precautions and necessary PPE before we work with the athletes. It’s made it more of a, 'I’ll help you with this, but I might not be able to do this kind of hands-on stuff,' and what we usually or normally are doing in the training room.”
With parents from other towns not being able to come see their children play, trainers are more vital than ever when an injury strikes. Hoskins had to quickly react a few weeks ago when a Billings Skyview player seriously injured her knee.
“If an athlete from another school gets hurt, I will get on the horn, I will text that athletic trainer," said Hoskins. "Or in this case last week, I called the athletic trainer over in Billings, I was able to explain to their athletic trainer the injury that happened out here and then that athletic trainer, in essence, can call the parents and notify them . That is kind of what we’re doing with COVID, because, as you know, parents can’t come in from other towns.”
Parents are happy to see home games, but some feel like visiting parents should be there just in case their child gets hurt.
“I think it’s always beneficial to have the parents there, whether they’re from the home team or the visiting team," said Meredith. "(It) just gets the information there quickly, kind of puts them at ease. If it’s something serious or emergency nature it’s just good to have the parent there. When they’re not there and the decision has to be made, just to get a hold of them as soon as we can or someone that’s close to the family to relay the information to them. If the decision has to be made before they head down the road, if they’re two or three hours away, we want to make sure that injured athlete is taken care of on the road before they get home."
But the athletic trainers want home and visiting parents to know, they have it handled.
“That’s kind of the neat thing, is we’re trained and we’re really calm inside," said Hoskins. "It’s just like any profession. When it’s an 'oh boy' moment you just do what you’re told, do what you’re trained and you take care of the athlete and you do your assessments and you come up with your diagnosis and you do your best to keep the athlete stable and then you try to relay that information to the parents. The truth is just the best, don’t beat around the bush -- this is what I feel, this is what I think, this is what I’m suspecting at this moment.”