This month, as student athletes and their coaches prepare for the fall season, Gifford Health Care and Randolph Union High School (RUHS) make official an agreement to provide athletic training in the coming year for all high school and Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA)-required middle school sports. Per the agreement, a Gifford athletic trainer will cover RUHS home games and events and provide training room hours for athletes.
The partnership is the result of several months of collaboration between RUHS Athletic Director Steve Croucher and Gifford Rehabilitation Services Manager Troy Stratton, a physical therapist who also works with the sports medicine team at Gifford.
“This program is so important for the health, wellness, and safety of our student athletes,” said Croucher, who has worked toward the goal of having a permanent athletic training program at RUHS since he started at the school three years ago. “We are now joining the vast majority of schools in Vermont that have athletic training programs. I think our community—especially our high school athletes and their parents—will see in these first few weeks just how valuable it is to have an athletic trainer available on a permanent basis.”
Historically, RUHS hired trainers on a per diem basis and to meet state mandates, which Croucher said wasn’t enough and resulted in “coverage with very little continuity or connection to the student athletes.” Now, RUHS will have consistent access to Gifford athletic trainers, both at school facilities and at Gifford’s Kingwood Health Center, enabling trainers to get to know the athletes and their individual histories.
“A significant benefit to our partnership with Randolph Union High School lies in the prevention aspect,” said Stratton. “This program will give parents peace of mind. Not only will Gifford athletic trainers be available immediately when acute injuries happen at RUHS home events, to be that first responder, but they’ll also provide ongoing education on how to take care of the body and how to recover from athletic events.”
Croucher agrees that prevention and education are critical. As part of the program, all fall athletes will undergo screenings for pre-concussion and functional movement.
“I am excited about the valuable information that will come from early-season screenings,” said Croucher. “With direction from the athletic trainer and Gifford’s rehabilitation staff, we will incorporate what we learn from the screenings into team warmups and functional movement drills as well as pre-season trainings throughout the year.”
The first day of varsity practice at RUHS is Thursday, Aug. 16. In the meantime, Gifford trainers have been assisting pre-season and attending meetings with coaches.
For more information about services offered by Gifford, including physical therapy and sports medicine, visit giffordhealthcare.org/services-overview. For more information about athletics at RUHS, email firstname.lastname@example.org.