Everyone has seen the athletic trainers along the sidelines of local sporting events.
Those men and women are always prepared with tape and ice and crutches, ready to help any young athlete who might get a cut or a sprain or something more serious.
You might take these people for granted because back in the day, a coach would grab a roll of white tape or one of those ice packs that you smack hard and they magically turn cold, hand it to the injured athlete and ask when they think they can get back in.
You rarely notice those trainers until something goes wrong. Which was the case last week at the St. Olaf cross country meet.
It was a hot day, though not as stifling as it had been earlier in the week, but the air was dry. It was the first meet for most of the boys and girls, and you never know how seriously the runners took their preseason training. It’s a tough course, one that will hold the state championship later this season.
There were problems, with heat and possibly dehydration, that left a few of the competitors needing medical attention, some more serious than others. And the St. Olaf training staff was ready, professionally and seriously treating any issues so that this quality cross-country meet would remain focused on the competitors and not some tragedy.
This community is blessed with Minnesota State’s highly decorated athletic training staff, which not only takes good care of the Mavericks athletes but also provides help for the local high schools. Graduates of the Minnesota State program can be seen at many high school, college and some professional events throughout this state.
But you never really think of that when you see a trainer haul in that case of various tools that can be the difference between fixing a minor problem and having something develop later that requires more medical attention.
The folks at St. Olaf deserve some attention for their work last week, though many, many trainers throughout this area will be providing the same service countless times during this athletic season.
It’s comforting to know that they are prepared to help any young athlete who may need their expertise. It’s something most folks didn’t grow up with, but that’s been a major, positive change along the sidelines of sporting events.
Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out his local sports blog at www.mankatofreepress.com or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.