The best Friday night for Jess Pierce calls for her to do nothing more than enjoy the sideline view at every Mountain Pointe football game.
But she knows better.
“If I just get to watch the game, I’m just fine with that,” said Pierce, the school’s head athletic trainer. “It doesn’t happen often, but if I have nothing to do that’s a good night.”
Pierce is in her seventh year at Mountain Pointe after graduating from Central College and Northern Iowa, and has had to deal with all types of injuries through the years.
If a player goes down, athletic trainers are supposed to wait until the referee waves them on, but there are times when there is nothing that is going to hold them back when one of theirs is in pain.
“If it is something major then I don’t care what any ref says,” she said. “I need to get to them as fast.”
Pierce and other athletic trainers don’t show up just before game time, as her duties don’t allow her to leave the school very often on a Friday as she has to attend the practice for the lower levels along with some of the other sports on campus.
Then she has to do pregame taping, getting all of the needed supplies, back brace and water ready to be take out to the field for the varsity game.
Luckily, Pierce is not alone.
She is the sponsor for the Mountain Sports Pointe Medicine Club, which introduces high school students to the possibility of making it a career. They have several pregame duties that alleviate some of the work that Pierce has, but really she has her hand in all of it.
“Game day is hectic,” she said. “We always have a great support staff here and it gives them a look at it, what it takes if they want to make it a career choice.”
With the increased awareness of concussions and what the long-term effects can do, there is more emphasis than ever before when it comes to monitoring one of the hardest diagnosis out there.
“You have to watch them so careful because they will hide from you,” said Pierce, who admitted some injuries, like a dislocation, can be cool to see. “I know these kids and I know how they walk so if something doesn’t look right I have to take the right steps. When it comes to concussions we always err on the side of caution because that is something you cannot miss.”
While concussions are difficult and are about as serious as it gets, she knows even something like a sprained ankle must be treated with the same level of precaution.
“Chances are there is a parent in the stands waiting to see that their son or daughter is OK,” she said. “We have the type of job where a quiet night is a great night and 95 percent of the time most injuries are something small, but you have to be prepared for anything.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.