Trainers look out for athletes

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 3, 2007

In the best of times, they're all but invisible on the athletic field. But when something goes wrong, the sports world's version of a first responder springs into action.

Athletic trainers are on hand to react, treat injuries and assorted maladies - and generally ensure that the athletes on the field are as healthy as they can be.

&uot;I always wanted to be a doctor or a nurse,&uot; said Jessica Goforth, a senior in the Troy University athletic training program. &uot;I didn't know this would be what I wanted to do when I got into it.&uot;

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Goforth has worked as student trainer for soccer, track, high school football, spring football and rodeo.

So what does athletic training entail?

&uot;We tend injuries and help athletes rehab injuries,&uot; Goforth said. &uot;But our main goal is the prevention of injuries.&uot;

In the heat of south Alabama, that often means making sure athletes are getting enough liquids to make sure they aren't dehydrating. Dehydration can lead to exhaustion and cramps, as well as heat stroke.

Athletes from all levels must hydrate their bodies when practicing and playing in extreme heat and humidity. While the upside of these extreme temperatures is a team that is often very fit, the downside is that players who do not hydrate correctly are more prone to heat-related maladies.

In fact, Troy University's Kenny Cattouse succumbed to dehydration during summer practice and hadto receive intravenous fluids.

Troy's athletic training program is second to none. Its director, Chuck Ash, was named College and University Athletic trainer of the year by the Alabama Athletic Trainers Association. And in 2001, he was granted membership into the American Sports Medicine Fellowship Society.

The program's renown is one reason it attracts students, said Jessica Haney.

&uot;Troy has one of the best athletic training programs in the nation,&uot; Haney said. &uot;It's one of the toughest, and you learn so much.&uot;

Goforth and Haney work under the supervision of a certified athletic trainer. In their case, it's Dave Bush, who is also a graduate of Troy's athletic training program.

Trainers work on injuries of all kinds, from twists and sprains to more major injuries like concussions, fractures, breaks and spinal injuries.