Pictured above: Iredell Health System's Athletic Trainers. From left to right: Holly Townsend LAT, ATC; Sara W Gross LAT, ATC; Brandi Mueller PTA, LAT, ATC; Stacy Davis LAT, ATC.
While your student athlete is focused on running faster or making the game winning shot, athletic trainers are focused on their health. You can find Iredell Health System's certified and licensed athletic trainers on the sidelines at Iredell-Statesville Schools, working to prevent injuries and promote athletes' wellbeing.
March is National Athletic Trainer Month, a time to spread awareness of the important role trainers have in bridging sports and medicine. Athletic trainers with Iredell Health System are discussing the work they do and sharing their advice for student athletes and their parents.
Steer Clear of Concussions
Brandi Mueller earned her Associates Degree in Physical Therapy Science at Kent State University and her bachelor's degree at Lenoir Rhyne University. She said she became an athletic trainer because of the opportunity to work closely with motivated athletes and coaches to prevent and treat injuries. She calls her job the "best seat in the house to watch young people mature on and off the field."
Mueller is spreading a message of concussion awareness.
"Take care of your brain, you only get one," said Mueller. "When in doubt sit it out."
Education is Key
Stacy Bess Davis loves working in her hometown. She graduated from North Iredell High School and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Athletic Training from Lees-McCrae College. An injury lead her to her career of athletic training.
"After an orthopedic surgery on my knee, I decided that becoming a CPA and sitting at a desk everyday wasn't in my future anymore," said Davis. "Athletic training gave me a chance to stay on the sidelines, while helping others stay in the game!"
She has advice for preventing injuries while playing sports.
"Parents and athletes alike need to understand hydration and nutrition guidelines," said Davis. "Certified Athletic Trainers and coaching staff can advise but it truly starts at home. Most injuries can be avoided by properly fueling your body."
Listen to Your Athletic Trainer
Sara Gross earned her Bachelor's Degree of Science in Athletic Training from UNC Charlotte and trains athletes at North Iredell High School. She says she enjoys athletic training "because I get to help athletes get back to playing quicker after an injury. Seeing that smile on their face makes the job completely worthwhile."
Her message for athletes and their parents is to trust the experts.
"If an athlete does not come to see me so that I can evaluate and educate them, most of the time they end up increasing inflammation and prolonging their injury," said Gross. "Most parents think that heat is good right after an injury when, in reality, ice is the answer for the first week. I say always seek the help of the athletic trainer at your child's high school because we are caring medical professionals and our main priority is your child's safety and health in sports."
Pay Attention to Your Body
Holly Townsend battled injuries as a college athlete at Mars Hill University. She says a positive relationship with her athletic trainer lead her to her career path.
"I fell in love with the profession," said Townsend. "I wanted to be there for injured athletes and help them quickly and safely return to the sports they love."
Townsend graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and now trains athletes at South Iredell High School. She says she enjoys getting to watch sports for a living.
Her message to students: listen to your body and don't overdo it.
"A lot of injuries could be prevented if athletes took more time to recover and didn't try to push through every ache and pain. Taking time to rest and let your body recover does not make you weak or lazy it makes you a smarter athlete. You will benefit from the rest in the long run."