High School Still Struggling To Fill Athletic Trainer Position

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By: Mary Stanley
Published: 09/16/11

Sandwich High School athletes have been practicing and competing in scrimmages and home games this year but they have been doing so without a certified sports trainer—a trained medical professional who attends sporting events, including games and practices, and tends to any injured players on either team—on the field.

But that may all change, soon. In a telephone interview this week, the high school’s athletic director Martin J. Cosgrove said he may have found somebody to provide medical coverage for home games.

“I met with a certified athletic trainer today. He is looking at the fall sports schedule to see if he will be able to help out,” Mr. Cosgrove said on Wednesday.

The high school has been operating without a permanent trainer since October of last year when former athletic trainer Frank E. Green resigned from his position following an impasse with school officials over access to the building. The high school was installing a new security system at the school and issued keys to a limited number of staff. The athletic trainer was not on the list to receive a key, and, in an e-mail announcing his resignation, Mr. Green said a compromise plan of requiring the trainer to sign out a key each day did not give him sufficient access to perform his job during emergencies or weekends.

Since then, the school’s athletic director has been borrowing trainers or hiring EMTs from the Sandwich Fire Department to keep the school in compliance with Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association regulations, which require a trainer to be on the field when the school hosts football, ice hockey or playoff games. Mr. Cosgrove said he was fortunate last winter that Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s athletic trainer Gregory A. Folino was able to cover Sandwich High School’s winter sports season. Because the maritime academy does not field winter sports, Mr. Folino was able to offer his services to the high school.
Mr. Cosgrove said he is not certain that he will be able to secure Mr. Folino’s services again this year.

In March, former superintendent of schools Mary Ellen Johnson issued a new job description for the post. She recommended changing the position from a contracted one to a part-time staff position of 20 hours per week, with an hourly rate of $25, plus benefits.

Though the open position was posted, Mr. Cosgrove said he received no responses.

“The position was advertised with a salary of $18,000 a year, plus benefits, but it didn’t attract a single applicant,” Mr. Cosgrove said.

Mr. Cosgrove said the position is a difficult one to fill, especially since it is only a part-time post. “There is no advanced degree that I know of that works for $18,000 to $20,000 per year,” he said.

Mr. Cosgrove said Sandwich is not the only district finding it difficult to fill this type of part-time position. He said most school districts hire trainers on a full-time basis and if that individual is certified to do so, they can teach classes or may take on other responsibilities during the school day.

He said an ideal candidate for Sandwich High School’s vacancy would be somebody who works in the field of sports medicine on a full-time basis but has the flexibility to be able to provide part-time coverage between the hours of 2 PM and 6 PM, Monday through Friday. “I’m not even sure that it’s a matter of money. The question is: Is there a person out there who can work these hours?” he said.

Sandwich High School Principal Ellin Booras agreed that this particular position is a difficult one to fill. “It’s a very shallow pool of candidates,” she said.

He said he has been reaching out to various private entities, including Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod on Service Road as well as Precision Athletic Trainers in Allston, which is a temporary employment agency specializing in athletic trainer positions, in search of people who might be able to fill the position.

“Last week, I called Precision Athletics looking to fill about 10 hours over two or three days, but they didn’t have anyone they could send,” he said.

Mr. Cosgrove said, fortunately there have been no serious injuries this season, such as broken bones, reported by any of the Sandwich athletes. But, he said, this trainer position is vital to the sports program. He explained that a trainer can immediately detect serious injuries, such as a concussion or can attend to even minor sport-related injuries.

“They can treat minor injuries that may require taping a player up, so that they can get back on the field faster,” Mr. Cosgrove said.

“We want to have somebody here for peace of mind. You wouldn’t open a school without a school nurse. Why is this less important?” he said.

For now, he said, athletes are advised to tell their coaches, see the school nurse or see their own private physicians if they believe they may have suffered an injury during a practice or game.

“Everyone, the players and the coaches, wants a trainer back on the field,” he said.


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