State Board of Education revises High School football athletic trainer requirements

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WEST VIRGINIA (WDTV) -- West Virginia State Board of Education members voted unanimously to advance revisions to athletic trainer qualification guidelines during a board meeting Wednesday.

The policy passed unanimously and is expected to be enacted by February 10th.

"They are essentially another coach because they are here at every practice throughout the year (...) If somebody happened to be hurt, they are right there," said Evan Hott, coach of the Elkins High School Tigers football team.

Board members focus prop 5112 on setting minimum training requirements for limited athletic trainers. The Lewis County Minutemen will be one team reviewing the changes.

"Right now we have a paid firefighter from the city of Clarksburg CFD that is our temporary athletic trainer and he is just hired for the football season only," said Brian Fisher, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director of Lewis County High School.

Limited athletic trainers are medical professionals contracted through high schools in place of full-time trainers.

"In a sport like football it is a game of attrition. You are always losing kids to bumps and dings, sometimes concussions and bigger injuries," said Hott.

Prop 5112 lists who can be contracted including physicians, nurses paramedics and even chiropractors. Raising concern over how well limited trainers can help athletes.

"With a trainer, they can diagnose things right off the bat. They can start rehab, and go that way, where as a temporary would be an EMT, a doctor, a paramedic something that can just, do first aid and that is it," said Fisher.

Board members received over 70 comments of protest against the policy.

"(...) it is imperative the state of West Virginia demand the full time hire of athletic trainers who have been nationally licensed and have a skill set specific for the athletic population not only in football but in all sports (...)" said Pam Schield, an athletic trainer at Salem University, "the work of athletic trainers is more than just a workshop."

Many West Virginia counties do not have the budget for full-time athletic trainers and those that do consider themselves lucky.

"We are really fortunate to be in the position that we are in," said Hott.

The Board of Education currently requires teams to have a trainer, a limited trainer or a substitute in place before players can step on the field.