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Athletic trainers present when possible

Athletic trainers are present at Jefferson High School sporting events whenever possible, but many high school competitions are played without the watch of a medical professional.

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Heartland Orthopedic’s Paul Westerberg is the head of trainers at Jefferson High School, and he said there are instances where it is impossible to have a trainer present at a game or meet.

“I think Jefferson would agree that, in a perfect world, they would love to have us at everything,” Westerberg said. “But it doesn’t happen because the finances just aren’t there.”

Jefferson High School contracts athletic trainer services through Douglas County Hospital’s Heartland Orthopedic, and that agreement determines the number of events that are covered. Most sports do not have an athletic trainer at road games, and sometimes a decision must be made between multiple home contests.

“There would be certainly examples of varsity soccer where an athletic trainer is not present,” Westerberg said.

Another problem that athletic trainers in Alexandria face is attending multiple sports at once. Westerberg said that on a given winter night, Alexandria could be hosting a home hockey game, basketball game and gymnastics meet with only two trainers to cover those games. But the coverage at JHS is often better than other area schools that only have one trainer to cover every varsity sport.

The move to the Alexandria Area High School next year will make things easier for athletic trainers, as nearly all the facilities will be located on one campus.

A Minnesota law was passed in 2011 requiring coaches to remove athletes under the age of 18 if they show the signs of a concussion. All coaches and officials must receive training on concussions before their first game of the season in an attempt to make them more aware of what the symptoms are.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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