High Schools Consider Hiring Freelance Athletic Trainers to Promote Safe Recovery for Injured Athletes

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The School Board for Polk County, Florida, wants to have athletic trainers in each of the district’s high schools, but they aren’t quite sure how to implement the idea just yet.

Six other schools in Polk County use athletic trainers for their students, but only on a volunteer basis, according to the district’s director of athletics, Don Bridges.

Bridges made the proposal in the hopes that all of the district’s 14 high schools will allow the trainers to work with injured athletes.

But cost may be an obstacle for the school district, depending upon the demand of the trainers.

According to Bridges’s proposal, it would cost $630,000 to have full-time trainers at each school, or $465,000 for a mix of full-time and contract trainers.

The trainers would assist the sports teams and be present for home games.

Trainers in the schools could also provide additional services, such as suggesting exercises for injured athletes and recommendations for other treatments like massage. Student athletes can benefit from even 10 minutes of massage to help reduce inflammation.

However, not all of the school board members were impressed with the plan. Many said that the costs were too high, and asked for ways to reduce expenses to hire these trainers.

One solution would be look for contract or freelance trainers from medical centers in the area; another would be to hire trainers who are also certified as physical education teachers.

Bridges said that most schools in the United States (64%) do not have full-time athletic trainers. At other large districts in Florida, however, having personal trainers is the norm.

Bridges also criticized some parents and coaches “who are more about winning than the safety of the kids.”

“We’ve had kids who were put back in the game because they were the star but shouldn’t have been put back in the game,” he said.

Other school districts around the country also struggle with athletics budgets.

In Sag Harbor, New York, the school board has to account for all costs, from $9 for red floor tape all the way to costs for buildings and maintenance, as part of its $781,000 budget.

Sag Harbor is also debating hiring freelance or consultant athletic trainers for about $10,800 each.

This move is also to promote player safety, according to the district’s athletic director, Donnelly McGovern. If a player gets hurt, the consultant trainer would be called in to assess the injury and work with parents on the next steps for recovery.

The use of a trainer could also remove the need for the family to see a general practitioner if the child is referred to an orthopedist, according to McGovern.

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