Turlock City News

Turlock City News

No Athletic Trainers at THS, PHS Football Games?


The Turlock Unified School District is unwilling to authorize the necessary overtime to pay athletic trainers to be present before, during or after football games for both Turlock High School and Pitman High School this season.

The policy change was brought to TurlockCityNews.com's attention by THS football parent Jim Green, who found out about the district’s stance during a pre-scrimmage announcement by THS head coach James Peterson. Green says Peterson told parents there would be no trainers before or during games at THS and PHS this season due to a district policy change to no longer pay trainers overtime to work the games.

Green, upset by the announcement, contacted the TUSD administration to no avail.

TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Heidi Lawler told TurlockCityNews.com that the district could not say if athletic trainers would be present during football games this season, as personnel issues are confidential. She did confirm that athletic trainers are considered full-time employees.

When asked if trainers would be present during football games this season TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said, “I do not know what the trainer’s schedules are.”

Turlock High School Athletic Director Anthony Belew confirmed that overtime for athletic trainers has been officially cut, and that the district has indicated they will not pay overtime. Belew said that adjusting trainers' hours might allow them to be present for games, but he had major concerns.

For example, trainers have typically been present for freshman, junior varsity, and varsity games. Typically, freshman games start at 3 p.m. and varsity games will often end after 10 p.m. Trainers are needed before, during and after games for player health needs, but trainers are only paid for eight hours a day.

Belew also says that the overtime restriction will be detrimental to other sports such as wrestling and basketball during lengthy single or two-day weekend tournaments in which games and matches are spread out longer than eight hours in a day.

“I’m wondering how that will work,” said Belew. “I guess we will just have to call an ambulance.”

Belew says that trainers are there for player’s health and can provide stabilization and preventative measures for players in all sports.

“In the event of a serious injury they can stabilize and have the parents determine whether or not to take the player to the emergency room themselves. Now the ambulance will just haul them away,” he said.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of not having a trainer present were evident during a THS scrimmage last week. A player suffered a broken ankle and serious knee injury, and coaches were unable to help the player in an adequate manner while they waited 30 minutes for an ambulance to respond.

“What can coaches really do? They are only certified in CPR- they aren’t trained or certified to treat those kinds of injuries,” said Belew.

TurlockCityNews.com has learned that a meeting was held Monday between both Pitman and Turlock High principals and TUSD administration and it was determined that athletic trainer overtime would not be authorized. It is believed from sources that it would cost $15,000 for trainers to be present before, during and after both schools' games.

“Trainers are very valuable to players' health and that is what is upsetting. They not only take care of injuries on the field but also continue to provide therapy for the players until they are healed. They also tape players before the games to prevent injuries,” said Green.

California School Employees Association Representative Kyle Harvey indicated that there are education code, contract violations and liability issues that need to be discussed with district officials before a scheduling change can be discussed. Harvey says the CSEA, the trainers and the district plan to meet in the coming days.

“The CSEA is very upset about this. I understand there was an injury at the game and this is very disturbing. The district has some real liability issues here,” said Harvey.

At the TUSD Board of Trustees Meeting Tuesday evening Jim Green’s wife, Christine Green, spoke during public comment, indicating her displeasure with the possibility to not having trainers during games. She says it is important to have an independent, third party evaluation for concussions.

“I understand that (budget) cuts sometimes need to be done, however I do not think it should impact student safety,” she said.

Trustee Bob Weaver said the board or district could not discuss the comment as it was not on the agenda.

Ambulances and emergency medical personnel will be on hand at both Turlock and Pitman High games this season via American Medical Response ambulance services.

Comments 2

  1. Jillian Hubbel says:

    The amount of injuries that are cared for by athletic trainers at all sporting events, not just football, range from first aid to fractures and dislocations, treating muscle cramping to concussions. All of which I personally have seen the athletic trainers care for. Assessing severity of ankle sprains to determine if It’s safe for them to continue play is essential. If you ask an athlete, they will say “put me in coach”. They need a trained and certified athletic trainer present for all of those reasons. Turlock has a strong stance on concussion care and the return to play plan, developed by the athletic trainers of tusd, is an excellent plan. Who will make sure our children are safe and symptoms free. We need to protect our children and keep the athletic trainers at the events. And yes I didn’t even touch on the rehab done to get our children healthy again and back to playing. KEEP OUR ATC’s At EVENTS! Our children are worth it.

  2. Rachel says:

    They think it’s too expensive to pay to have qualified medical personnel covering a collision sport? Wonder what they’re going to think when they get sued because a kid loses a limb, vision, hearing, use of any/all limbs, or dies because no one knew how to properly manage a catastrophic injury. It’s not *if* that happens it’s *when* that happens. That kid who has a neck injury, but just tries to shake it off? Yeah, his neck was broken and now he has a severed spinal cord because he was allowed to tough it out, get up and play on. That tib-fib fracture that had to wait 30-minute or longer for an ambulance? Yeah, he lost his lower leg because blood supply was compromised, and no one there realized it. The kid with the ankle sprain who doesn’t want to be viewed as “soft” by his coaches and teammates? Yeah, his ankle was broken in 3 places. Now he needs surgery and months of rehab because he was allowed to keep playing. That kid with the headaches after every game? Sorry, he died because he was allowed to go back into the game, and the next hit caused his brain to bleed. That kid who stumbled around after making a tackle on a kick off and kept playing, but no one noticed because all the coaches were looking at the other end of the field or the playlist? Yeah, he now has permanent brain damage — at age 16.

    When I used to work HS FB, the officials would not allow a game to start until I was present on the sideline. I don’t know if this was a statewide (CA) rule, or applied just to the area I live and work in, but I would suggest if TUSD cannot afford to have ATCs present before, during and after football games, then they cannot afford to have football — or any other sport that may interfere with them having an ATC present.

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