Trainer mends injuries
Cuts, scrapes, broken and fractured bones, bloody noses, dislocations, sprains and twists are all part of the game. In order to be successful in a sport, there are sacrifices. To help mend those sacrifices, there is Gary Stevanus, head athletic trainer at Baldwin High School.
Within all the sports at BHS, football is the leading injury sport according to Stevanus. He sees 150-200 injured students each year, and about 85-100 of those are football injuries.
During the football game against Wellsville two football players were injured, and one was hurt before the season had barely been underway.
"I was running the ball when one of their players dove and hit my foot, the result was a high sprain. I was out for the rest of the game. I missed the game against Gardner too," said junior tailback Caleb Mason.
Senior corner back/wide receiver Evan Durnal said, "I went to tackle another player, my foot stayed in one place while the rest of my body went the other way. I felt my knee pop in and out of place. I tore my MCL. I was out for about five weeks, but I still have to wear a brace. We're not sure when and if I'll have to have surgery."
Over the summer practices Eric Waters partially dislocated his shoulder.
"My main concern at the time was that I was not going to be able to play in the first game," he said.
Although football may be the leading injury sport, students are getting injured in other activities, such as cheerleading.
"This is the fifth time that I have fractured my ankle, I'm going to have to have surgery, and then it will take 4 to 5 months to fully heal," freshman Lauren Gilges said. "Two of these have been sport-related."
In order to become a trainer like Stevanus, a person must a bachelor's degree, along with certification by the N.A.T.A.B.O.C.
"I see more male than female injuries, but mainly because of football," said Stevanus. "I think the best part of my job is being able to work with kids, but the worst part would have to be telling student-athletes and their parents that they have a serious injury."
A common misconception about certain athletes may be that they are just trying to get out of practice or a game.
"Barely ever does a student fake an injury to get out of practice or a game," he said. "They all have it about figured out that rehab is going to be harder than practice. I also have different test for them, such as testing the laxity in the ligament."
It also seems impossible to find an athlete at BHS that doesn't like Stevanus. He has a very positive attitude towards students and the students have one towards him also.
"I really like Gary. He knows what he is talking about. He knew what was wrong with my knee immediately," said Durnal.
"Gary is a great guy. He's really smart and knows what he is talking about. I don't think he gets enough credit for the work he does," Waters said.
"When I was in high school I had a knee injury. I think I got a lot of my inspiration to be come a trainer from my high school's trainer who helped with my rehab," said Stevanus. "This is the type of job that I would love to do full time. I really enjoy the kids and working with the coaches. The kids love the coaches. They are great players and coaches. They understand what they're doing and they don't second guess anything that I say."
When worst comes to worst, Stevanus is there. He helps student-athletes get back on the field as soon as possible but without the possibility of re-injuring themselves.
"I will not let an athlete back in the game because we are losing, even if that student was our only hope," he said. "I wouldn't let them risk hurting themselves."
"Gary and his staff always do a great job of maintaining and rehabilitating the athletes at Baldwin," said Jason Broaddus, assistant football coach and head junior high boys track coach.
"The services Gary and his staff provide for the school are very valuable. We are very fortunate to have him here on a daily basis," said Kit Harris, head wrestling coach.
Playing a sport can be dangerous, but with the help from a good trainer, players can make it through any injury. The trainers are there after school at practices and attend all sporting events. Athletes see Stevanus out there with them, through rain, snow, deadly heat and just every day weather. The trainers truly are a very important part of the BHS team.