From concussions to heat stroke to sprains and broken bones, injuries are not uncommon in high school athletes. These days, many programs rely on athletic trainers to keep their students healthy, but those can come at a high cost.
"[Adams City High School] has actually has never had a certified athletic trainer," Adams City athletic director Joe Ladow said.
For years, coaches served as the first line of defense against injuries. It would also be left up to the students and their parents to take action when necessary.
"In a setting where you have this many athletes and there's no athletic trainer present, it kind of falls on the kids to self-treat or parents to help if they need ice or any other medications," certified athletic trainer Bria Witner said. "It's up to the coaches to try and recognize if there's an injury or if someone needs more water, or needs to take a break or if they can't practice that day."
"We tried our best to go by the protocols of what we learned in the various clinics that talked about concussions, and obviously being able to recognize the signs," Adams City football head coach Jesse Jones said. "We did have volunteers, people who were on the sidelines with us that were able to spot a kid that may be a little woozy or something like that. Sometimes we even had the trainer of the opposing team who would lend a hand and say, 'Hey, [number] 21 may need to be checked out,' or something of that nature."
Adams City has close to 600 student-athletes participating in 18 sports throughout the year. Now, for the first time, they will have a certified athletic trainer tending to its students.
Denver Broncos Charities, the NFL Foundation and Children's Hospital Colorado announced the Eagles will be the beneficiary of this year's NFL Club Matching Certified Athletic Trainer Grant. The $50,000 grant -- which is split 50-50 between the Broncos and NFL Foundation -- will place Witner, a certified athletic trainer from Children's Hospital Colorado, at the high school for one calendar year. She will work a minimum of 20 hours a week, tending to students of all sports at practices and games.
"[High schoolers'] bodies are built differently than adult bodies and they have to be treated different when it comes to injuring certain body parts," Witner said. "I think being with Children's Hospital, we're trained to see the different things that could happen in a school-aged kid."
Witner's role includes treating athletes for current injuries, rehabbing them from surgeries and preventing future ones.
"We want the best for our kids and their success," Ladow said. "Having someone of Bria's expertise working at Children's Hospital, that's just going to move us forward in that positive direction of what our vision is of what our athletics can become."
Adams City says the addition of an athletic trainer will allow its student-athletes to perform at their peak levels, while also putting parents and coaches at ease.
"For me, it's a Godsend," Jones said. "It adds layers of credibility. I really feel like having an athletic trainer solidifies the culture."
"We get a chance to streamline what we're here for," he said. "We're here to coach the players, we're overseeing various aspects of their athleticism from start to finish. When we have that at our disposal, we can relax as coaches and do our job, and these players know they have someone they can tap into that they trust."
"We want the best for our kids and their success. Having someone of Bria's expertise working at Children's Hospital, that's just going to move us forward in that positive direction of what our vision is of what our athletics can become," Ladow said.