• October 25, 2020

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: OHS athletic trainers take steps to keep Bronchos free of COVID-19 - Odessa American: Football

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: OHS athletic trainers take steps to keep Bronchos free of COVID-19

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Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 9:34 pm

Over the past week and back when practices began Sept. 7, the Odessa High football team has been in preparation mode for its season opener with Lubbock Monterey.

There has been a lot of anticipation from the Bronchos that finally get a chance to take the field at 7 p.m. Friday at Ratliff Stadium.

There’s also been a lot of work done to make sure that the team can do so safely.

Caitlin Boal is one of those in charge to make sure that happens.

The head athletic trainer at Odessa High said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made her reassess how she and her staff operate to stay safe.

She said that everyone has done well making the necessary adjustments.

“I think the biggest adjustment for us has been wearing the mask and ultimately just being more germ-savvy,” she said. “We maintained a very clean and healthy environment throughout the past few months.”

Boal said that she, along with assistant athletic trainers Emily Campbell and Tanya Sherman, oversee a staff of 23 student trainers. Those trainers have also played key roles in getting the football team — as well as the other teams across campus — ready to play.

She added that communication among themselves and their parents have been an integral part of the process.

“They’re helping a lot with the cleaning, aspect but we also have to get permission from parents that they were okay with it as well,” Boal said. “We didn’t want to make students do something that they weren’t comfortable doing, but we also wanted them to know that these are some of the things that they were going to be doing if they chose to.”

For Sherman, she credits Campbell and Boal for helping her navigate through some tough circumstances. Aside from her duties at the high school, she is also one of the main athletic trainers who works with the middle schools, as well.

“Honestly, it’s been a roller coaster,” she said. “It went from exciting with my first job out of college to being pretty scary when COVID hit. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s what we signed up to do.”

Everything has changed, from working out in the weight room, being socially distant in the locker room and on the field as much as possible, wearing masks and even how athletes get water.

Those protocols had to be reassessed back in June after Odessa High had to shut down strength and conditioning workouts for a two-week period due to a COVID-19 exposure.

One of the areas that Boal looked at was how to staff each sport so that they could all receive the proper care needed.

“There’s three of us there and all three of us don’t need to be checking in with football,” Boal said. “If there is an exposure, it doesn’t expose all three of us.

“We would separate so that way if something happened with football, it didn’t knock out all the staff and trainers where they couldn’t participate in strength and conditioning.”

The shutdown gave head coach Danny Servance and the rest of his team a different perspective, as well. He said that it also proved to be a lesson in both awareness and education.

“I think those are the two biggest things,” he said. “I think that it set a precedent for everyone else.

“Our kids have done a great job of following the protocol and trying to do the things that we’ve asked them to do at this point.”

Another aspect that’s changed is how to treat student-athletes for an injury. With the mask mandate in place, Boal said that they’ve had to do things differently in that regard, as well.

“Sometimes, when you do an evaluation of a kid, you can normally see their faces and that can tell you a lot about how they’re doing by being able to see how they react,” she said. “It has been an adjustment, but ultimately it just makes kids communicate more and that’s a positive.”

Boal and her team have also tried to do their part in making sure that the coaches have the supplies they need. That includes everything from disinfectant sprays and wipes, hand sanitizer and everything else needed to maintain that clean, healthy environment.

On the eve of the Bronchos’ first game, Servance credited the athletic trainers for all the hard work the team has put in to make sure that the first moment under the Friday night lights would become a reality.

“The athletic trainers have been great with putting together all the different policies and protocols and even helping out with policies for the whole district,” Servance said. “If it wasn’t for them, we probably wouldn’t be getting ready to play.”

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