At larger high schools, such as Aledo and Weatherford, classes teaching sports medicine are a common occurrence. Student trainers on the sports teams are in abundance.
Not so much with smaller schools.
And then there's Brock. Only a Class 3A school, they are defying the odds and offering sports medicine classes to their students, along with a plethora of student trainers on the sidelines.
The classroom program is in its second year and growing in popularity, said instructor Samantha Burton of Weatherford Regional Hospital, also the Brock ISD athletic trainer.
Burton teaches Sports Medicine 1 and 2. In Sports Medicine 1 students learn the basics of sports medicine and athletic training. They learn about the sports medicine team, different injuries and how to care for them, taping techniques, administrative duties of athletic trainers and emergency procedures.
Sports Medicine 2 is for those who have completed SM1 and are looking to further their knowledge. The class is more hands-on and more in-depth in certain areas.
"They will learn how to work different modalities, work on taping techniques more in depth and will dive into injuries/treatments and rehabs more," Burton said.
Burton said the classroom program came about after students were polled on what classes they would like to see added. Sports medicine was at the top of the list.
"I think they thought it was going to be an easy class, but you have to pay attention," Burton said. "If you come to class, pay attention and do the assignments, the class is easy and fun."
Burton said the majority of students in the classes are athletes who want to learn more about injuries and care for them. She said it is a good thing for athletes to be more knowledgeable.
"As of right now, the class is open to any student, so if I have a student that I think would help out in our athletic training program, I’ll be sure to talk to them and see if it’s something they’re interested in doing," she said. "Eventually, I’d like it to be the majority of my athletic training students in the class, with a few from the general population."
The classes help those who are student athletic trainers learn more in advance rather than on-the-job training, Burton said. It also helps them practice and gain confidence in the things they do daily.
Several students in the program regularly help out with sporting events.
"I have a group of 10 kids that are at every practice, and game," Burton said. "They each get one day off a week and rotate Thursday night games, and they all go on Friday nights with us.
"They fill water, hand water out, watch for injuries, tape, first aid. They truly help us out a lot because I can’t be everywhere and see everything."
However, the program is about more than dealing with injuries, Burton said.
"Most of all, I hope it makes each of them understand what we, as athletic trainers do on a daily basis. It’s not just all ice and advil," she said. "There’s bonding with your athletes, listening to them, whether it be about an injury or something going on in their life, getting the athlete involved in their recovery and ultimately getting to see them return to play with a confidence."
Weatherford football coach Billy Mathis said participation in such a program gives non-playing students a greater appreciation for sports, along with feeling like they are part of a team.
"The class gives the students another way to be part of a team," he said. "They become as much a part of the team as the players."
He also said it gives the players a greater perspective of what makes a team work.
"It's not just players and coaches," he said.
Aledo, a Class 5A program, has had a program in place for some time. It is taught by Troy Little, Aledo Head Athletic Trainer. Any student can take the class, but all athletic trainers must take it.
"More schools are getting athletic trainers, so that means more sports medicine classes," Little said. "This class is used to teach more students about the profession."
Currently, Brock's classes are inclusive of grades 9-12. Burton would like to see the program expand to have SM1 in grades 9 and 10, and SM2 in grades 11-12.
With the ever-expanding high school sports programs throughout Texas, it seems inevitable other small schools will follow Brock's lead.
"Next year we will have a full-time trainer and sports medicine classes will be offered," said Peaster Athletic Director Lynne Grimes.
Offering such classes can give a student a head start on studying sports medicine in college, Burton said. She also said the class, while primarily designed for athletic purposes, is also helpful in life outside of sports.
"If they go into athletic training, obviously this class will give them a jump on others because they’ll go to college with the knowledge and practice to help them," she said. "If they don’t, it will give them knowledge about everyday injuries, such as sprains and strains/emergency situations."