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Trainer impacts HCHS sports programs

Some people consider an athletic trainer a luxury item when it comes to a high school sports program. However, when one considers the number of student-athletes that participate in sports, an athletic trainer is more of a necessity than a luxury.

Halifax County High School had been without the services of a certified athletic trainer for three years before Leslie Hodge began working with the high school sports programs in August.

Despite having been on the job for just two months, Hodge has made a big impact with both coaches and players.

“Miss Hodge is very important to our school’s athletic program, most especially the football program,” said Comets Head Football Coach Dave Wojtecki.

“We as a coaching staff may be educated on injuries, but we don’t know everything. I’ve had a lot of injuries and I’ve seen a lot of injuries, but I don’t know how to rehab them or know the severity of a lot of them. When a kid asks me if he can practice today, I tell him it’s the trainer’s call.”

With Hodge on the sidelines, athletes have instant access to initial injury assessment and treatment. That is critical, especially when it comes to concussions and other head injuries.

“A lot of emphasis has been placed on concussions and head injuries and all of the coaches have gone through training programs for concussions this year and last year,” Wojtecki pointed out.

“While we have received training, it’s good have somebody there that knows more than we do about injuries to the head. When she gives me the look that a player with a head injury is not going back into the game, that’s her call and we’re done. That player is not going back out onto the field.”

The rehabilitation component is also a big benefit, Wojtecki said.

“We have some guys get banged up and she does rehab with them and gets them back a lot sooner than they may otherwise would have been,” Wojtecki pointed out.

“A lot of doctors will take kids out for a period of time just out of precaution. If we get a doctor’s note, we can’t use those kids.

“With a trainer,” he continued, “we know even if a player is out of practice, she (Hodge) is rehabbing them. She is putting those players through workouts and they’re not losing any conditioning, which helps us out a lot. When the players come back, we don’t have to get them back in shape before we put them back into the game. They’re already in shape when they come back, and they’re ready to go.”

The benefit of having a certified athletic trainer extends much more than to injury assessment, treatment and rehab. While there was no athletic trainer, the football coaches would have to do the pre-game and pre-practice taping of the student-athletes.

“Our guys really aren’t trained to do a lot of that stuff,” Wojtecki explained.

“There are things in the past we could have done with taping but we didn’t know the technique of how to do it. She (Hodge) knows the things that should be done. We’ve got tons of guys that are nicked up that are still playing because of the treatment she has given and the tape jobs that she has done.”

Halifax County High School Athletic Director Allen Lawter echoed Wojtecki’s sentiments.

“She has done an outstanding job since she has come aboard,” Lawter said of Hodge.

“Our programs have benefitted greatly from her. If a student is hurt, she is rehabbing them and helping them recover. In the past, we have had to rely on the coaches to assess and treat injuries.

“Now,” he continued, “we have someone that has the training to assess injuries and rehab the players. Our coaches can now continue to coach during games and practice and know that their players are receiving the attention they need.”