By Sarah Maninga, Certified Athletic Trainer
If you’ve ever attended a home game in Sebeka, Menahga or Wadena-Deer Creek, you might have seen me standing on the sidelines. As a certified athletic trainer, it’s my job to watch over student athletes in case of injury. To celebrate this month as National Athletic Training Month, let me tell you a little more about what I do and why athletic trainers are so important for students.
I serve three area schools – Menahga, Sebeka and Wadena-Deer Creek – on a contractual basis. Under that contract, I see elementary through high school students and provide them anything they might need that is sports health related. During the school year, it’s evaluating injuries during practices or games and making treatment recommendations. In the summer, it’s providing strength training and other conditioning services.
My day typically starts around noon in Menahga, and then I travel to Sebeka and finally Wadena. While at each school, I check in with students, whether it’s tending to new injuries or following up with old ones, and update coaches on their students’ status. Before practice, students come to me to get their injuries taped or looked at, and then I’ll peek in a few times during practice.
Along with communicating with coaches, I will also involve the student’s parents and their provider if needed.
My game schedule is predetermined in the fall. I sit down with the schools’ athletic directors, and we go day by day to decide where I should be. We try to make it as even as possible between the schools.
I attend home games to provide first aid, treat new injuries, and be there in case of a medical emergency. That’s not just limited to athletes. If someone in the stands has a heart attack, if a referee is injured or if a kid falls in the hallway, I would treat them as well.
Before each game, I check in with students to see if anything needs to be taped or evaluated, I make sure I have all the equipment I need such as ice packs or crutches, and provide water.
Anytime a visiting team comes to one of my schools, I’m in charge of them too. In the case of serious injuries, I contact their athletic trainer that night or the next morning to alert them of the situation.
If a team makes it to the postseason, I’ll travel with them to every game. I’ve also gone to state with a few of the teams, and that’s always a really fun experience.
Some of the most common injuries I see are concussions, scrapes, sprains, strains or jammed fingers, but I’ve seen everything from allergic reactions to broken femurs. You never really know what’s going to happen. I always say that it’s good when I’m bored because that means no one’s getting hurt.
My favorite part of being an athletic trainer is building relationships with the kids. A lot of times, kids will come visit me just to chat.
I love sharing with them all about what I do to hopefully generate curiosity about the world of sports medicine. I think it’s huge to get kids excited about this field, especially if they plan to come back here someday. There aren’t many athletic trainers in the area, and it’s huge for a school to have one.
There are a lot of kids that I look out for, and getting to know their individual personalities is really fun. One of the joys of my job is getting to watch them grow and succeed.
For more information about Sarah’s services and sports medicine, click here.
About the Author: Sarah Maninga has been an athletic trainer at TCHC since January 2015. She works with athletes at three area schools: Wadena-Deer Creek, Sebeka and Menahga. During her time off, she enjoys spending her time with her husband on their small farm and doing anything that involves being outside, especially hunting and running.