Five Sioux Falls, South Dakota, area high schools — Sioux Falls Lincoln and Roosevelt, Brandon Valley, Tea Area and Sioux Falls Christian — have earned the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Safe Sports School 1st Team Award. The athlete safety award champions safety and recognizes schools that provide safe environments for student athletes.
A school earns 1st Team Award status by acting on all recommended and required criteria:
- Create a positive athletic health care administrative system
- Create and rehearse a venue-specific emergency action plan
- Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions
- Educate athletes and parents on the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities
- Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment
- Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities
- Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes
- Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations
- Provide or facilitate injury intervention
- Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education
Sanford Health partners with the schools that were recognized.
Focus is prevention
“It starts pre-participation in a practice or game to ensure everyone is safe,” said Brian Fox, a certified athletic trainer at Sanford Health. “This includes making sure the weather and environment are safe for students and coaches in outdoor sports. Preventive measures are taken for the team and individuals. And when injuries do happen, we identify them as quickly as possible and take appropriate steps to evaluate. The student is only returned to practice or a game if it’s safe and appropriate.”
Students are made aware of concussion baseline testing, injuries, treatment and prevention. Athletes follow the athletic trainer’s recommendations, and athletic trainers communicate closely with school staff.
When an injury arises, everyone — the coach, strength trainer, athletic trainer — is on the same page, getting that student athlete healed and on the playing field as soon, and as safely, as possible.
“Whenever we say, ‘They can’t practice’ or ‘They can’t play,’ there is never an argument. The school coaches just say, ‘Let us know when they are ready.’ The athletic trainer works with injured athletes to develop a plan listing what activities can still be completed, and the student trains under those guidelines. The injured athlete will also work with the strength coach to help keep up strength and conditioning levels during the injury rehabilitation process,” said Scott Roggenbuck, a Sanford Health certified athletic trainer.
The key focus to keep students safe is injury prevention. Through weight and strength training, education and prevention, athletic trainers and coaches teach students proper strategies, exercises and stretches to avoid injuries or aggravating current injuries. Students build a foundation of knowledge and practice that will carry them into their future life and athletics.