P-CEP Athletic Trainers are the Park's Esteemed Healers
There's never a dull moment for Salem's Bowers, Plymouth's Durocher and Canton's Edgerton.
Most work days kick off just after noon for Plymouth-Canton Educational Park athletic trainers Tony Bowers, Joe Durocher and Glenn Edgerton, whose once-quiet offices quickly become beehive-like gathering places for treatment-seeking athletes.
Before they head home eight to nine hours later, taping gimpy ankles is just one of a countless number of roles the Park's esteemed healers perform for the hundreds of athletes they cross paths with during a given week.
"One of the upsides of this job," said Plymouth High School athletic trainer Durocher, "is that there is no such thing as a typical day. You never know what you're going to see or what you're going to do."
This much is certain for the athletic trainers: Dull moments are as rare as no-hitters.
Once the final bell sounds just after 2 p.m. in the three Park schools, the trainers' responsibility-meters go from zero to 60 in a matter of minutes.
Depending on the day and the season, they're responsible for tracking the health of athletes who are participating in multiple practices and multiple games at one of the most unique high-school athletic complexes in the state.
"The coolest thing about this job is that when a kid gets hurt and they're removed from play, we have the ability to work with them and return them as quickly as possible and as safely as possible back to play," said Bowers, Salem's athletic trainer since 1998. "It's very rewarding to see a kid who we've spent hours and hours and hours working with get back to their sport."
"On top of that, having the ability to be part of the entire process is rewarding," said Edgerton, Canton's athletic trainer since 2006. "We're not seeing them after they get hurt; we're seeing them when they get hurt, we're seeing them the day after they get hurt and pretty much every day thereafter until they're healthy enough to play again.
"Being a part of an athlete's entire recovery process – and eventually seeing them score a touchdown – is a nice feeling."
Each of the Park's three high schools field 42 teams from August through June. Multiply that number by 20 (the average number of athletes per team), and you can understand why the word dull isn't in the athletic trainers' vocabulary.
"We do a pretty good job at sharing responsibility, which we have to do to get the job done," Edgerton said. "With multiple games going on at the same time, Tony and Joe cover for me when I need them, and I do the same for them.
"As far as getting taped, I'm sure most of the athletes prefer their school's own athletic trainer. But they also know that if he's not available, there are two other resources on the campus they can turn to."
While the three athletic trainers admitted their jobs are ultra-rewarding, they were quick to add their responsibilities also include some down times.
"For instance, during the football championship game at Ford Field, a couple of players had to come out because they got dinged up and they really wanted to go back in there," Durocher said. "I mean, it was their last high school football game. But I looked them in the eye and told them they couldn't protect themselves out there. Their heads kind of dropped and they said, 'I know.' They trusted me enough and didn't make a huge issue out of it."
Edgerton said the evolution of the high-school athletic trainer over the past three decades has enhanced the trust they have earned from coaches, parents and athletes.
"My dad is 67 and back when he was in high school, you'd get hurt, they'd rub some dirt on it and say, 'Get back out there,'" Edgerton said. "Coaches and parents are more educated now and they realize that we are advocates for not only the kids, but the kids' futures."
As Edgerton spoke, a Salem student-athlete in search of a tape job called out Bowers' name from just outside his office.
It was closing in on 2 p.m. and the trainers' bee-hives were beginning to buzz.
Ed Wright is the owner/operator of PlymouthCantonSports.com, a local website that covers all levels of athletics in Plymouth and Canton.