SARAH WUELLNER, Asst. Sports Editor—In honor of March being Athletic Trainers Month, Erin Laswell spoke as an assistant athletic trainer from the NCAC. She graduated from Denison in 2017 and came back to Denison for work. “I think there are some really special things about what we do at Denison. When it comes to the family atmosphere of how we try to make this a safe space and a happy place on campus for a lot of students.” They are the first people to be there for a student on the field, put them into rehab and treatment and coordinates seeing a doctor or surgeon if necessary. “What I love about athletic training is that it’s the only health care field where you see the person from injury to return to play.” The athletic trainers love seeing the players succeed in their sports and grow.
Due to COVID-19, the athletic trainers have experienced some challenges and a larger workload to keep athletes safe. They are doing athletic COVID testing almost fives days a week. The athletic trainers must assess the risk factors depending on the sport and the area’s ventilation. Winter sports must be tested more frequently as they are indoor and close contact. Athletes are tested 72 hours before their competition day. The athletic trainers are tested three times a week.
Those in the sports medicine department start their day at around 10am with treatment or rehab hours until 3pm. The time frame changes depending on the athletes practices. Due to COVID, they must do one-on-one appointments, “which is awesome but also hard because we want to get a lot of people in and the students have been so gracious about our time.” After 3pm the trainers get ready for the practices and games. There are two or three games per week depending on the season. They must set up a table and supplies to do evaluations during games, such as basketball. “The days can be long sometimes, but the days when we have games, they are what I look forward to. Practices are good to see people improve and grow, but games are when I see them so joyful and excited to do what they do.”
The athletic trainers only watch over varsity athletics from a legal and liability standpoint through the NCAC. They do not cover club sports at Denison as they already are spread thin with the amount of athletic trainers they have to lookover athletes. When asked what injuries are common between athletes Erin explained, “It depends on the sport, with soccer and basketball there is a lot of ankle and knee injuries compared to softball which is more overuse with shoulders, quads, and hamstrings.” Her favorite technique to use with athletes is dry needling, “It is modeled after acupuncture but it has a western philosophy behind it. It is used to heal injuries, recover, and almost instantly feel better.”
When asked what sport is her favorite Erin was hesitant to choose one, “I played softball at Denison for four years, so obviously there is a little warm spot in my heart for that program and I can empathize with what they are going through. Each team has a different dynamic and it is really special to change throughout the year and flow with those groups because each team has different needs.”
Athletic trainers work behind the scenes of the sports competitions to ensure that students are staying safe, especially in the time of COVID-19.