The thought came to me roughly two weeks ago: why does Fairfield not have an athletic trainer who is accessible to all students?
It was a cold Wednesday night and my intramural soccer team, The Goal Diggers, was playing a game under the glistening lights of Rafferty Stadium. About ten minutes into the first half, my teammate and friend felt as though she pulled her hamstring and immediately had to come out of the game.
She was an extremely good sport about it, sitting on the side of the field with her foam roller waiting for the game to end. At its closing, my teammates and I checked in with her and she shared the incredible pain she was feeling with us.
Our first reaction was to tell her she should go to the health center on campus and have it checked. As soon as the words left our lips, however, we realized that that wasn’t practical.
It is of general knowledge, at least by students, that the health center is helpful for the diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses or infections. Physical injuries do not generally fall under their care, and often result in the transportation of a student to Fairfield Urgent Care or, in extreme cases, a nearby hospital.
Remembering my high school, The Prout School, the next question that left my lips was, “Well, isn’t there an athletic trainer you can go to?”
My high school had an exceptional athletic trainer, who would frequently assist in student physical injuries that occurred in gym class, sports games, and merely everyday life. I was shocked to discover Fairfield does not have one for non-student-athletes.
You may be wondering the same as I, doesn’t an intramural sport still qualify one as an athlete? Well, not at this university it doesn’t.
Fairfield’s Mark Ayotte serves as the director of sports medicine and there are three assistant athletic trainers within the department. They are staffed within athletics, however, specifically to serve student-athletes competing in division sports, and are not inclusive of club and intramural sports.
I did more digging after this, trying to decipher if this focus was specific to Fairfield or whether it is common amid universities nationally. Perhaps a lot of people knew about this already, but the thought had honestly never crossed my mind until now.
This is when I came across College Athletic Trainers’ Society, whose mission is “to provide and manage healthcare for the intercollegiate student-athletes.” Their website states, “Our members are dedicated to the delivery of quality healthcare and ensuring the health and safety of our student-athletes.”
Don’t get me wrong, this is an extremely important foundation and encompasses individuals who do exceptional work towards helping our student-athletes. I can’t help but ask, however, what about the rest of us who play and enjoy sports at college?
I played four years of varsity soccer on a division one team while in high school. Suffering from sciatica due to scoliosis and a pelvic tilt, continuing this in college on a division level was not possible. Not to say I would even make the women’s team at Fairfield; college is a lot more competitive than high school and I know that. This just goes to show, however, that a lot of people in clubs or intramural teams are certainly also athletes, who take the sport seriously and may require help from within the field of sports medicine.
I can agree that student-athletes playing division-level collegiate sports may require athletic trainers specific to them. Their level of intensity and chances of injury are a lot greater than the rest of our’s, as well as the amount of time and dedication they put into their sport.
I can’t think of a good reason, however, as to why universities should not also have at least one athletic trainer for students who play club and intramural sports. Injuries obtained here certainly fall within sports medicine and these students may be just as in need of a little help.
My friend only pulled a leg muscle, but if one were to have experienced a more serious injury than that? All universities should provide an athletic trainer within the realms of club and intramural sports for the safety of additional students.
I understand the level of importance tied to intercollegiate division sports, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us should be left behind.