PENDLETON, Ind. — Ask Pendleton Heights Athletic Director and football coach John Broughton who he’d rather have at his side during a football game, and he’ll tell you an athletic trainer, not an assistant coach.
Actually, when he first began coaching football in 1976, Broughton gave up his assistant coach in exchange for a trainer because he didn’t “want to be on the field without one.”
Sure it’s nice to have someone who knows defense, but it’s better to have someone who understands sports-related injuries, he explained.
While South Madison Community School Corp. middle and high school athletes have always had a trainer during the school year, beginning July 1 they’ll have one year-round. The school board voted to use Indiana University Health for trainer services.
Broughton said his number one concern is concussion prevention. But during the summer months, there’s also a threat of heat exhaustion.
He tells his players to drink lots of water before they come to practice so they won’t be “behind the eight ball,” and he gives them water breaks during practice. But having a trainer there, who’ll have last say when it comes to the players’ well-being, will be extra assurance.
That’s comforting, Dena Johnson said.
Her son, Andrew, is a lineman for the Arabians, and she worries most about him taking hard hits. But Johnson grew up in a football family and is familiar with the risks. She’s familiar, as well, with the tough mentality some of the boys have.
“A lot of young players could have a sprained ankle and just keep going,” she said.
Without a trainer examining them, she said, a minor injury could turn into something major and force them to the sideline for months.
Times have changed, Broughton said, as more steps, like concussion impact testing, are being taken to ensure the safety of student-athletes.