Speak Out: Should Montgomery County Spend $500,000 On Athletic Trainers In Schools?

Tell us what you think.

It’s budget season in Montgomery County, and at least one local parent wants to know what county leadership is doing to protect students—protection that can’t come from armed guards and locked doors. 

Football season is recently concluded, hockey season is underway and sporting concussions continue to pose health risks to high school, college and pro athletes across the country. While state and county lawmakers have made strides in requiring concussion-training for high school coaches, local advocate and Patch blogger Tom Hearn says it’s not enough.

Hearn, whose own son sustained a concussion playing JV football at Whitman High School in 2011, urges the county school board to include $500,000 in funding for high school athletic trainers in the fiscal 2014 operating budget request. County schools Superintendent Joshua Starr has already requested $75,000 in the new budget go to district-wide baseline concussion testing.

“The lack of certified athletic trainers at MCPS high schools represents a serious public safety issue,” Hearn said in testimony to the school board on Jan. 17. “Some concussion professionals say that if you can’t afford to have athletic trainers, maybe you can’t afford to have a sports program." 

Hearn argues that certified athletic trainers have four years of study at an accredited college and national certification, giving them a deeper knowledge about concussions and other sports injuries than coaches typically have. Having a certified trainer on staff to maintain detailed records of student injuries and health needs would also allow coaches to get back to what they do best – coaching, Hearn said.

Research found 60,000 high school and college athletes suffer concussions each year from contact sports, according to a WBAL-TV report. The injury isn’t just a simple bump on the head and can be fatal.

Kristen Sheely, of Germantown, lost her 22-year-old son Derek after he sustained a head injury during football practice at Frostburg State University in August 2011.

Nine Montgomery County high schools—Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Montgomery Blair, Winston Churchill, Damascus, Walter Johnson, Quince Orchard, Richard Montgomery, Walt Whitman and Thomas S. Wootton—offer baseline testing to at least some of their student athletes, MCPS spokesperson Dana Tofig told Patch in September.

The computerized tests measure things like memory and reaction times before and after an injury, and help determine whether it is safe for athletes to return to their sports.

Coaches are required to take a 20-minute online concussion training class each year, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School athletic director Jim Tapley, told Patch in August.

Districts surrounding Montgomery County have certified trainers on staff for schools, while Montgomery County has none, Hearn said.

Should the Montgomery County budget include funding for athletic trainers in schools? Tell us in the comments.

Janis February 08, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Superintendent Starr is increasing the staff travel budget by $300,000. Why is that budget going up before student safety?
Darla Tagrin February 08, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Why is so much extra money being spent on sports activities that most of the school can't participate in? Only a tiny fraction of students will be on an athletic team, and football gets a hugely disproportionate amount of money. If football is so dangerous, why are we having kids play it in the first place? We need to teach kids how to function in the real world.
MRHarmon February 09, 2013 at 12:57 PM
I agree. If they are looking for areas to spend money the focus should be on arts and music which does teach real world skills, emphasizes creativity which is not emphasized in our teach to the test world and serves the entire student population.
Robin Markush February 10, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Please take a look at the message from Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society President Yvette Ingram. There is a petition on the White House website's 'We the People' section aiming to provide youth athletes with direct access to qualified health care. With a goal of 100,00 signatures, even if every one of the 30,000 athletic trainers in the country sign, this will come up well short of the goal. Please consider signing this petition and sending on to others that may want to help athletes receive proper medical care in secondary schools. Post on twitter or facebook to increase the number of people who see it. You will need to create an acct but it only takes 1 or 2 minutes to do so. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/ensure-youth-athletes-have-direct-access-health-care-professionals-qualified-make-assessments-and/NPdNCkq1 Thanks Yvette Ingram PhD, LAT, ATC
Darla Tagrin February 10, 2013 at 02:42 PM
I think that athletes are not the only students who deserve health care, but they seem to be the only ones who count.


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