The Dickinson Independent School District Student Athletic Training Program has been working behind the scenes for nearly 40 years providing vital sports medicine to 1,200 junior high school and high school athletes each school year. At the same time, the student athletic trainers are gaining valuable skills to assist them in college and prepare them for future careers.
“The athletic trainer’s job is to work with those in the athletic population with regards to their injuries — anything from preventing athletic injuries to evaluating and rehabbing athletic injuries after they occur,” said John Harmon, district head athletic trainer. “Our job is extremely varied from day to day.”
The district is fortunate to have three full-time athletic trainers, one of whom is funded through a longtime partnership with Houston Methodist St. John Hospital. The athletic trainers work with the student athletes and oversee the approximately 25 students enrolled each year in the district’s Student Athletic Training Program.
Dickinson High School students have several course options if they are interested in sports medicine and athletic training. The school offers Sports Medicine classes that are open to all students, not just those entering the Student Athletic Training Program. The Sports Medicine class teaches students about nutrition, hydration and other first aid skills they need for athletics as well as for all aspects of life. These can be students interested in coaching, nursing or sometimes a student who is interested in athletic training, but is unable to fit the entire Student Athletic Training Program into their schedule.
The Student Athletic Training Program is a four-year program starting with an introductory class helping the athletic trainers with rehab, setting up playing fields and getting ready for practices before transitioning into Sports Medicine I and II and helping in the athletic training room. The program extends outside the school year with students starting in July for training and working with athletes preparing for fall sports.
“Student trainers chose to be in this program for any number of different reasons — sometimes they go on to be nurses, sometimes they go on to be athletic trainers and sometimes they go on to business,” said Harmon. “What they learn in this program is going to be valuable to them in the future with regards to how to work well and be successful both in your field and away from your field.”
While the experience provided to the student athletic trainers is extremely important, the sports medicine facilities and service provided to all district athletes is another plus, Harmon said.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on in Dickinson ISD is that we do all of our rehabs here from beginning to end at the field house,” said Harmon. “We offer it as a service to our athletes. We are fortunate to have the space, resources and the staffing. It really is an asset that the students do not have to be pulled out of school to go to a private physical therapy clinic, plus it is a savings for our families.”