For high school athletes, a lead athletic trainer like Scott Witte is great to have around, even if they hope they never have to see him.
“That’s a major thing with athletic training, is developing that relationship so they know that you’re looking out for their best interest,” said Witte. “They know that we want them to play. They know that we want them to succeed and that all comes by developing that personal relationship and developing that trust.”
An essential presence on the sidelines
Witte is one of many Sanford athletic trainers who works with local high schools to care for athletes during each sports season. Witte works at Davies High School in Fargo, North Dakota, and considers his job to be essential to the health and well-being of student-athletes.
“As an athletic trainer, when we’re on the sidelines, we’re kind of that go between, or that buffer zone, between a coach and a kid. We’re there to make sure the kids are healthy. We really don’t focus on wins and losses, although those are bonuses for us, but if a kid gets hurt and we don’t feel they’re able play, we can step in there and make sure they’re being on the safe side,” Witte said. “The coach … they’re supposed to be worrying about the game and the outcome of that game. So we’re there to make sure that everybody’s safe and doing it the way they need to do.”
Witte doesn’t just help students during in-game injuries though. He is in the school’s training room during the week, working with athletes to rehab their ankle sprains, hamstring pulls, muscle strains and more. Everything from nagging injuries that can keep them out of practice, to torn ACLs or other major injuries that require surgery, significant missed time, and a lot of rehab.
“Their motivation is to get back to their sport. That’s what they want to do. So they’re motivated to do the rehab,” Witte said.
Helping in more ways than one
As part of Sanford’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine program, Witte also has the tools and connections to help athletes and their parents navigate through the whirlwind of medical options that pop up after an injury.
“If a parent calls us up and has a question, or doesn’t understand what’s going on, we have fairly easy access to those physicians and can reach out and get those answers and then pass that along to the parent, or to a coach, or to an administrator, or to the athlete themselves. So being here for these athletes, it kind of makes things easier for them,” said Witte.
The rewarding nature of rehab
Even though he has to be involved with athletes after major injuries — which can be a low point in their young lives — Witte says getting them back on the field and seeing each student overcome adversity is an incredibly rewarding part of the job.
“When they’re initially injured it’s like, ‘Oh no, it’s the end of the world,’ and then as you go through, they can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel as they go through that rehab process,” said Witte. “When they finally do get to return, it’s just the look on their faces, the joy of being able to do what they want to do again. That’s the rewarding part. Knowing that you made a difference in somebody’s life.”
No athlete wants to spend time in rehab, but at Davies High School in Fargo, and at other schools all across the region, Sanford trainers like Scott Witte are there whenever they are needed.
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