Like any average athlete on a Friday night, he thought he would not suffer an injury. Cradling his arm, he walked slowly off the field. The athletic trainer rushed to him and assisted the injured player.
An athletic trainer is a person who cares for and assists all athletic teams in emergency care and one who may also refer injured athletes to proper outside care when the injury is beyond the extent of the trainer’s capabilities. This is a description of what Stacy Walsh does at Chaparral High School, who has been here three years and an athletic trainer for ten years.
Walsh did not always know what she wanted to do when she grew up. While in high school, Walsh tore her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), an injury in your knee that causes instability and must be repaired surgically, her junior year. The injury happened right before soccer season, which was her main sport. Walsh absolutely loves sports. She played soccer, volleyball and softball in high school.
When trying to decide on a major in college, Walsh discovered athletic training. “I wanted to do something in the medical field but not be a doctor,” said Walsh, “And that I loved sports, and the advisor at Baylor University said we have the perfect opportunity for you, and introduced me to the athletic training department. I kind of fell into it.”
Her role models are her parents. “They worked really hard to provide for us, for my brother and me, to be able to go to a good school, have what we needed and do what we wanted to do for our careers,” said Walsh. She graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree, then University of Tennessee, for her master’s degree.
“I’m originally from Fort Worth, Texas, but I’ve lived in five different states,” said Walsh. It was a big challenge for Walsh to move to Tennessee. She did not know a single soul. “I took a giant leap of faith and left a great job to attend graduate school. I felt that’s where I was lead. My faith is very important to me. It gets me through a lot.”
When Walsh started working as an athletic trainer, she was very nervous. In addition to her athletic training duties, she also teaches academic courses. She started teaching two classes at Waxahachie Independent School District in Waxahachie, Texas. “I had a really good experience in college, so I think that the biggest shock that I had was the amount of responsibility and the amount of paper work that came with the organization and doing a good job as an athletic trainer,” she explained. Walsh knew about the hours and the injuries she was working with.
Family is very important to Walsh and she is very careful to make time to be with her family. Walsh can easily live at the school, more than she already does in order for her to get things done. “It is very difficult to balance but you have to; otherwise you will burn out.” On her days off, which is every Sunday, she tries to she spend time with her family or friends. “I kind of just recharge on that day,” said Walsh. One thing that Walsh never enjoys is a Friday night date with her husband, “We make date night a priority, whenever we can fit it in.”
One thing that Walsh wishes she never has to go through is have an athlete die on her, “That would be a huge struggle for me to work through,” said Walsh. After working with so many injuries, Walsh has been very lucky to not face any fatal injuries. “Every injury makes me very anxious.” Walsh hates when her students get concussions, torn ligaments, and when she has to work with pins. She also hates telling her students they will not be able to continue playing the sport they enjoy the most, in other words, season ending. After working with so many injuries for so many years, Walsh has been very lucky to not face any fatal injuries.
Even though Walsh deals with many different obstacles each day, she is able to manage with them every single day. Walsh’s work time really depends on the season. She normally works six days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., if it is not a game day. Fall is the busiest time of the year for her. She has four sports going on at the same time; soccer (boys and girls), football, volleyball and cross country. Her main concern during the fall is football because it is a collision vs. contact sport, “We usually have over 100 athletes in football, with approximately 300 athletes competing in fall sports overall.” Fall is also the time where she feels most stressed. She has to set boundaries and rules in order to maintain organization, treatment, game schedules, and her sanity.
Walsh is thankful for the help that she gets. She has an athletic training class during seventh period that helps her set up and get everything ready for practices or games. “I don’t know where I’d be without them,” explained Walsh. She also has students stay after school to help. The students are the ones who help her do the little things and help her run the athletic training room efficiently. “I’m very blessed with them,” said Walsh.
Nothing can describe how busy Walsh’s days are. She tries to work out early in the morning. Once she arrives at school, she does injury reports or puts in treatment logs and checks paperwork, looking for any forgeries in the physicals. Throughout the day, Walsh may also contact coaches. During lunch and after school, Walsh attends students who go for treatments or an evaluation. “I pretty much try to use the morning to take care of myself and whatever I need to take care of to prepare for the day. I never know if it’s going to be a quiet day or a busy day,” said Walsh.
“It’s not all about what you know, it’s about who you know and what they think of you. Life is about the people,” explained Walsh.
Being an athletic trainer has become her passion; she does not know what else she would do. It is what she needs to do in life and her purpose. “If they know you care, they will do a lot more for you,” said Walsh. She tries being the best athletic trainer for her athletes. Walsh wants to gain her athletes’ confidence so that they are able to trust her, and not be afraid of her, and let her know what is going on so she can assist them. “It is not about the pay; it is not about the championships for me. It is about having every kid who can play on the field, and the ones who can’t- we’re going to get them on the field as soon as it is safe,” said Walsh.
Walsh is rewarded when she is acknowledged for the work and effort she does. Having an athlete have a season ending injury and being able to return and break records is a great feeling for her. The goal for Walsh is for the athletes who have had an injury to return as if it never happened.