FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — On Monday night, Fairfax County student-athletes and their parents pleaded for help from their school board representatives, saying it needs to do more to keep them safe.
At a budget public hearing, several students donned their sports jerseys and spoke up one by one, making the case for funding for two full-time athletic trainers at each county high school. Right now, each school has one full-time trainer, and some have one additional part-time trainer.
Much of their passion for this issue came from positive experiences.
“They’ve always been super helpful,” said Michael Burns, a center on the Woodson High School football team. “They’ve always been able to give me guidance.”
Matt Hyder, Burns’ teammate and a linebacker on Woodson’s team, shared his message with the school board first.
“My freshman year we didn’t have enough coverage for trainers,” he said. “And the one game we had to borrow a trainer, we had seven concussions that game.”
Burns claimed that having two full-time trainers “really ensures that the safety of athletes is going to continue to be paramount,” while Hyder said the trainers he has worked with “keep all of Fairfax County sports going.”
There are a few reasons for their pleas, including concerns the part-time trainer’s stipend is too low, and their hours are too long. According to a parent volunteer, a part-time trainer makes just over $16,000 for three seasons of sports and does not receive benefits.
But arguably their most important argument: they’re worried about the consequences of having just one trainer on any given busy day of games and practices.
“Someone could have a very critical injury and the athletic trainer, if there’s only one, could be at a different part of the campus at a different event,” said Andrea Edelstein, a volunteer with the Lake Braddock football team. “You don’t want to, in hindsight, say, ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda,’ after tragedy happens.”