Early mornings, athletic tape and water bottles

An inside look at the work student trainers put in to ensuring safety on the football team


Stu Mair

Athletic trainers Lauren Payne and Susan Smiley help injured player Blake Pfaff off the field.

Hannah Ortega , Staff Reporter

Rain poured down in buckets from the ebony sky and onto the field at the Prosper football game, and though the chilling water left nothing unsoaked, the football team continued to play. As they did so, a different kind of team was working strenuously on the sidelines.

The team was hurriedly covering their already drenched supplies with plastic bags, and suddenly a lightning warning was announced. They hurried the supplies indoors, only to move it back out again when the warning passed.

Sophomore Leslie LaTour took her place under a tent, peering out into the downpour. She spotted her friend, junior Sarah Parkinson, out in the rain, waiting to give the players water during a timeout. Other members of the team rushed around performing tasks, enduring the rain, the cold, and the stress in order to keep the game running.

These are the athletic trainers.

The job of a trainer starts early and can end late, as they arrive at school at 6 a.m. for the football morning practices Mondays through Wednesdays, and on Fridays they usually stay until anywhere from 11:30 p.m. to past midnight after the game. They also have many tasks to tend to during these hours.

“We get the waterboys ready and we get all of the water bottles ready, and then we help with treatments,” sophomore Mikayla Dohmann said. “Then we stand on the field and give people water. That’s Monday through Wednesday. Thursday we either stay here or we go with one of the teams, JV or freshman, and we work their game.”

A Friday night football game is the major event of the week, and Dohmann said that “Friday nights are pretty busy.”

“We all have an assigned job for Friday night football, whether it’s just timeouts which are just waiting, and if there’s a timeout you run out on the field and give everybody water bottles, or you’re on bench where you’re making sure that everything on the bench sideline is ready,” Dohmann said. “We have waterboys. There’s injuries, so those are jobs. We also have jobs during halftime.”

Since the hours are so early, the trainers only have to do so many morning practices a week, and a system is in place to ensure an equal amount of work is distributed.

“Right now at least we have a policy where we sign up on Google Drive and we only have to work three [games or practices] so that we can go to the varsity games,” Dohman said. “So we all are kind of balancing each other out.”

Dohmann said that being an athletic trainer has “lots of benefits” because it counts as a P.E. credit and because she wants to become a doctor. Several other students also signed up for athletic training because they are aiming for a career in the medical field.

“I thought about [being a trainer] in eighth grade, and I took sports medicine last year and I thought it would give me extra background and experience in the medical field,” LaTour said. “I also thought it was really cool what they did because growing up with my brother playing football I got to see the trainers, so that’s why I wanted to do it.”

The athletic trainers work together closely and very often, so they have bonded over time. LaTour said that “the first couple of weeks was kind of stressful,” which put a strain on getting to know everyone, but that “once that died down we started to get along better.” The trainers have created many memories since then.

“There was one time we had these little wheely chairs in [the training room] and Sarah, Gabby, and I were [cleaning] up the training room before the game started last week for Prosper,” LaTour said. “We forgot what we were supposed to do, and [Sarah] being on this wheely chair scoots over to try and see if Smiley could tell her what was going on. But, there was this divide between the tile and the drain area and there’s a big white marker and she forgot that was there and she scooted down there and she fell off. I have never laughed as hard as I did [then.]”

When not performing multiple jobs for the football team and making memories, the trainers are learning more about the medical field, such as the anatomy of the foot and leg, as well lessons and skills for life.

“It helps you learn how to deal with people because you’re with the same people all the time,” Parkinson said.

Though there are early mornings, late nights, and often stressful games, Dohmann said the athletic trainers enjoy their job and take pride in knowing that they help keep the football team as well as the football games functioning smoothly.
“It’s very rewarding. I love the feeling I get when [we’re] in the game and we get to go home early or go home late,” Dohmann said. “Just knowing that I’m a part of the team and that we help so much is satisfying.”