Help For Scholastic Athletes

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Back-to-school means back-to-fall-sports.  Lots of athletes are getting ready to take to the fields for the season, and in some cases, athletic trainers are too.

We stopped by the Solomon Plains school complex in Plains Township this week, just as the Coughlin High School football team started its second week of practice for the upcoming season.  Adam Tomassacci was watching the Crusaders closely.

"All summer you run around without pads or helmets and the first day of practice you're in full gear.  (Getting used to the heat) is an excellent idea," he said.

Tomassacci is a licensed athletic trainer in Geisinger's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Department.  It's his fourth year at Coughlin.  He says in the early stages of the season, it's all about getting acclimated to the heat, proper hydration and nutrition, and lots of stretching to prevent injury.

"That's kinda the goal at Geisinger.  We want to get them back in as soon as possible, but make sure they're safe and functional," Tomassacci said.

Roxanna Larsen agreed.  She's the program manager of the Sports Medicine Department at Geisinger.

"Sports medicine for us isn't just the scholastic setting, but it's also reaching into the community, into the active population."

Larsen says Geisinger has 17 athletic trainers affiliated with high schools in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, three on the collegiate level, and two who are clinically based.

"When they happen to see as they go through practice, see aches and pains or notice a weakness- they'll put them on a preventative program for strength and agility and conditioning to prevent further injury," she said.

Coughlin head coach Cirro Cinti thinks having an athletic trainer's expertise so handy is a great idea, both for the good of the team, and for the health of the players.

"Used to be we had 70-80 kids on a team, now it's 30-40.  So those kids are out there the entire time, doing both offense and defense, special teams- we really have to be congnizant of what we see," said Cinti.

Geisinger officials point out there's always someone available to answer questions at the Sports Medicine Department.  They also hold clinics on Saturday mornings, specifically for scholastic athletes to deal with injuries that may have happened during the week.