Approximately 40 percent of high schools in California have a certified athletic trainer (ATC) on staff. That means the other 60 percent goes without.
“Our concern is basically the health and well being of the student athlete,” says Tim Moscicki, ATC, head athletic trainer at Loyola High School.
He says every school should have an ATC through the school and not a clinic.
When an ATC comes on board, Tim says they are sometimes met with hesitation. As a newer position, a lot of athletic department staff doesn’t understand the purpose of an ATC, and that can be a hurdle.
“You have to have that support from your athletic director, administration,” Tim says, adding ATCs are often vital in the prevention of lawsuits regarding student injury.
When a student suffers an injury on campus, an athletic trainer if the first to assess it. ATCs walk a fine line, determining what are injuries and what are not, if emergency attention is necessary or if a student can wait to seek medical treatment. Telling students they cannot play is a serious business, but prevention of future injury is imperative.
Without the trust of coaches, parents and athletic directors, an ATC’s job can feel impossible. There needs to be trust between all entities in the ATC’s assessment. His word should be taken seriously.
There are many components that make Loyola successful when it comes to athletic training. Tim says dedicated students and coaches are at the core of that success.
The protocols Loyola has put in place are another key component for success. Athletes are required to check in with the athletic department when they are injured. If the injury takes place off campus or away from a member of the athletic staff, students can report the injury online. This extra step prepares coaches and the athletic trainer coming into practice the next day. They know who is injured and who needs evaluation. Because all injuries run through the athletic training office, Tim can stay on top of the health of all student athletes—of which 75 percent of the Loyola student body is.
The consistency created by these protocols in turn keeps athletes accountable. Students know who to go to if they sustain an injury and can rest easy knowing a professional is on-site to offer meaningful evaluations. Injuries often cause panic, but the presence of an athletic trainer can alleviate that.
Getting kids to show up is an area Tim still believes he can improve in. He’s learned not to take it personally—high school kids have a lot going on and a meeting with him isn’t always top priority. Instead, he checks in with coaches if kids are missing appointments, which is usually an effective method for getting them into his office.
The online software Tim uses keeps parents in the loop, too, offering forms for e-signature to limit paperwork and keep the lines of communication open.
While concussion protocols are a big part of the ATC’s job, not everything is so serious. Prevention is a main component and sometimes the task is as easy as telling a runner they need new shoes to avoid shin splints during a track meet.
Looking to next season, an immediate goal of Tim’s is to cover as many events as humanly possible. For next year, he hopes to continue the school’s baseline program—a program that allows for better return to play and return to learn assessments after concussion—by beginning baseline tests in May and completing fall and winter athletes’ tests before summer.
Tim will also update Loyola’s online procedures for parents and the website with information on policy and procedures for various health topics. Concussion procedure updates are also on his list. Constant self-evaluation, he says, is key to success.
“When you first hire an ATC, there’s a lot of growing that has to take place and getting to know what an ATC does,” Tim says. “We’re there to help, not only the student, but the coach, the administration, the parents.”