Parents know their son or daughter’s coach and what they do. There is normally, at a minimum, a preseason meeting where the coach introduces his or her coaching staff and yes, the athletic trainer. There are discussions on what the coach expects from the athletes and the parents. However, there is usually no discussion on what the athletic trainer does or what is expected of the athlete and their parents in respect to preventative care or what happens when an athlete becomes ill or injured. Parents have the opportunity to see the field or location where the games and practices will be held. They have regular meetings to plan and participate in fund raisers and concession stand duties to raise money for the teams. Yet, parents do not get to see where the treatments take place or how supplies are obtained. Normally the only time a coach or parent sees the athletic trainer is on the side line, handling the water, cleaning cuts, or after the game or practice when an athlete is injured. Don’t you think coaches and parents should have the opportunity to see firsthand everything else the Athletic trainer does and how they are involved in the health and well being of the athlete? I do.
Athletic Trainers need to allow parents, as well as coaches and athletes to come and visit the Athletic Training Room. This is an opportunity to demonstrate some of the more common rehabilitation exercises and treatments that are conducted. Allow them to see the documentation process and the injury prevention tools that are utilize. Give them an up close experience of what the athletic trainer does, rather than just introducing themselves as the Athletic Trainer at a coaches meeting and then moving on to the next topic on the agenda.
Allowing coaches and parents to see what happens behind the scenes would help them have a better understanding of who the person is on the sideline taking care of their child/athlete, as well as what the Athletic Trainer is doing after school to help the athlete get better. This may also provide the opportunity to express some of the things that the program is limited in, which could potentially spark the interest of some to help purchase or donate items that could help improve patient care. We all want the best equipment but having the best things usually comes at a steep price. So, low budget high schools especially, rely on donations and the athletic booster club to help purchase items that would otherwise be left out due to cost.
Educating the coaches and parents on how the athletic trainers are involved in the health and well being of their athletes will go a long way in raising awareness of the athletic training program in secondary schools. What strategy or strategies do you utilize to promote yourself as an athletic trainer and educate coaches/parents on the role you play in the health care team?
Bobby Vallandingham, LAT, ATC