ATPE News

Winter 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at ATPE.org.

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SPOTLIGHT ATPE NEWS 13 Ronnie Kirk has been a member of ATPE for 32 years. I haven't needed legal help, but I know it's always there for me. As an athletic trainer, you are out on a limb, taking care of injuries. I've always known ATPE will back me up. I've never looked at any other association. Playing Offense Against Injury Ronnie Kirk is passionate about the prevention and care of student athletic injuries. INTERVIEW AND PHOTO BY JEAN SCHLITZKUS F or more than 30 years, Ronnie Kirk has been in- volved in school athletics in his hometown, Lubbock, Texas. He was an athletic trainer at Coronado High School for 17 years. Currently, he oversees the care and prevention of athletic injuries for Lubbock ISD. Last sea- son, Kirk worked at 72 football games and responded to count- less health-related issues. But Kirk says his job involves much more than responding to on-the-field injuries. He takes pride in developing and implementing proactive solutions to help keep student athletes healthy. What are the responsibilities of an athletic trainer? The number one priority is the health and safety of kids. At Lubbock ISD, we are very fortunate to have licensed ath- letic trainers to provide comprehensive healthcare for the athletes. Athletic trainers are medical professionals who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and illnesses. We also serve as a liaison between the medical communi- ty and the coaching staff to ensure that student athletes are being cared for with the utmost professionalism. What sort of injuries do you deal with? We deal with a wide variety of injuries from sprains and strains, bumps and bruises, to catastrophic situations. With contact sports, increased compet- itiveness, and Title IX, there's just more people involved in athletics, which in- creases the chance of injury. How do you begin to address a student injury? Just imagine how catastrophic it would be if it was your senior year, you're final- ly going to start on the team, you injure your knee, and the doctor says you're going to have to have surgery. It's devas- tating. Our athletic trainers try to take care of physical therapy in house. But we have to deal with an entire spectrum of issues, not just the injury. We've got to be psychologists and help both the student and the parents. I've got to be there for those kids, and they can be in a lot of pain—hurting mentally, physically, and socially. How has the reaction to student injuries changed over time? We have state and UIL guidelines that must be followed, including "Return to Play" concussion guidelines. We are now beginning to think of concussions a bit differently. Concussions are brain injuries that affect thought process and mental capacity. Across the state, we are starting to look at the process as a "Return to Learn." One of the big things continued on page 40

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