Athletic trainer important safety net for local teams

Sat, 10/09/2021 - 8:45am

The next time you’re cheering at a Boothbay Region High School game, you might want to look for an indispensable member of the team sitting with the athletes. Kathleen Boyd, of Ocean Point, has been a certified athletic trainer since 1989 and has been assisting BRHS teams with her expertise since 2017. She is one of only two athletic trainers in Lincoln County.

Boyd is a graduate of Mount Adams State and Southern Illinois University where she received a master’s degree required for her profession. She is certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association and licensed as an allied health professional in Maine. Boyd moved to Ocean Point in 2016 when she retired as Associate Athletic Trainer for the University of Massachusetts/Amherst after a 27-year career.

And what exactly does an athletic trainer do? The answer is surprising in its scope and responsibility. As Boyd told Boothbay Register, the athletic trainer is not a fitness instructor. Instead, he or she is a sports medicine professional whose duties include pre-game checks through game injury assessments and post-injury rehabilitation.

Pre-game concerns include inspecting equipment (mouth guards, knee braces and helmets) to ensure proper fit and safety, creating an emergency action plan in the event of an injury and adjusting practices based on heat or cold. During play, the athletic trainer must know how to assess an injury on the field, conducting an initial evaluation and making sure the player receives the correct emergency assistance. In the case of a knee injury, for example, she would assess “if it’s an ACL sprain or tear or just a bruise on the knee.”  

As Boyd explained, “I’m there for game management as an asset for the director and coaches.”

Post injury, the athletic trainer determines when and if an athlete can return to play as well as keeping up-to-date on research and trends.

Boyd started assisting the BRHS teams in 2017, when Athletic Director Allan Crocker saw that she was available and a local resident. He reached out to Boyd asking her to cover basketball games and now, based on availability and need, she covers most contact sports events held at home: football, field hockey, soccer and basketball as well as cross country meets. “So there’s someone there to evaluate injuries and deal with them,” she explained.

Asked what parents need to know about students participating in sports, she said it’s important to have the right training. “Don’t just put a student in a sport that they don’t have training or aren’t conditioned for. And not just more training, but training intelligently.”

In general, she sees sports as a good thing for young athletes because, “You win, you lose and you learn how to go on.”

Boyd’s favorite part of the job is watching young athletes come back after an injury and do well. As an example, she spoke about a young girl who was seriously injured in a game and required surgery and rehabilitation. After Boyd worked extensively with the athlete during her rehabilitation, the fully recovered girl told her, “Every time I’m dancing I’ll think of you.”