Student trainers fuel to fire in today’s athletes

Let’s face it. High school would be virtually unbearable for many students if it weren’t for the sports. Whether participating, watching or coaching, a good number of students, or their friends and family, have had some involvement with high-school sports.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: Brittany Steele helps a fellow athlete stretch properly. Steele and Cody Lockwood, two IR seniors, have devoted their education to a student trainer program, alongside athletic trainer Todd Fuhrman.Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor
Brittany Steele helps a fellow athlete stretch properly. Steele and Cody Lockwood, two IR seniors, have devoted their education to a student trainer program, alongside athletic trainer Todd Fuhrman.

Praise often rains down on the all-stars, the game-winners, but little acknowledgement is given to those who truly make the athletic spectrum come to life. Indian River seniors Cody Lockwood and Brittany Steele are nearing the end of a four-year program that has not only allowed them to help others through their excruciating moments, but taught them lessons that will likely make a world of a difference for years to come.

At the start of their freshman year in 2004, Lockwood and Steele enrolled in a student trainer program that has helped develop their knowledge and skill in sports medicine and health.

As the years progressed, more and more material was brought before them. They started with a weightlifting course, introducing them to muscle groups and muscle performance. By sophomore year, they turned their focus to exercise physiology, which took their knowledge more in-depth.

By their junior year, they turned their focus in the classroom, with athletic trainer Todd Fuhrman, and this past fall, the two approached him to pursue the course as a full-on, independent study. The internship has put their skills to the test, in hands-on situations, where their knowledge acquired over the years has the opportunity to shine through.

Both Lockwood and Steele — athletes, themselves — have gone through the wear and tear and the pain and suffering of injuries. Steele missed last softball season due to a stress fracture in her spine. Lockwood was kept off his feet this past fall and winter with a knee injury that cost him time on the football field and wrestling mat. But from that adversity they grew, both stronger and wiser.

“In football season,” said Steele, “we were on the sidelines of all Friday-night games.”

The two have accompanied Fuhrman on the fields, working behind the scenes, taping ankles and wrists for athletes, preparing first-aid bags, even down to the simple things, like ensuring water is ready for the players at practices and games.

They’ve even done some blood work, especially with wrestling.

Each week, the two are assigned new projects, starting with lower extremities, where they cover each part of the body in its entirety, examining each tendon, ligament, joint and other body apparatuses.

“We also learned about budgeting for a training facility on the high school and collegiate levels,” noted Lockwood. “We even had to design our own training facility.”

After extensive study of how each joint works, the two were designated to prepare workout plans for the different sports, concentrate on motions that pertain specifically to their game.

With their specialized internship in place, the student trainers inherited duties, looking over their respected sports. Steele is one of the first lines of defense when an injury comes up on the softball field. Lockwood was at every wrestling match, ensuring the safety of all the athletes.

“Wrestling is full of injuries,” said Lockwood, “from knee and shoulder dislocations and broken noses, you see everything.”

Keeping on track, while Steele is at her softball practice, Lockwood and Fuhrman have their work cut out for them.

“In the springtime,” said Lockwood, “there are a lot of things to worry about. Todd’s the only trainer here. There’s baseball and softball out back, soccer at the old school, tennis over on the courts. It takes all of us to be able to cover everything.”

The training, skills and information they surround themselves with in this course will likely give them that extra edge as they take the next step in their lives.

Lockwood, who plans to attend the University of Delaware in the fall, aspires to become a doctor. With his stepfather a doctor, his mother a nurse and himself a volunteer firefighter with the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, Lockwood is continuously surrounded by the medical field.

Much of Steele’s family is in the education department, though she has known since she was a young girl that medicine and nursing was her true calling. She will turn to Wesley College in Dover for nursing training after graduation.

Once the independent-study course is complete, their transfer credits will help accompany their studies at college.

Many misperceptions arose as other students watched Lockwood and Steele work through their training course.

“A lot of students wanted to try it because we’d be going to games all the time,” said Steele, “but there’s a lot of work that comes with it. It’s not just an excuse to get to go to games and get out of class.”

“Some people still don’t think we do anything,” said Lockwood, “but every week, there’s a new project. There’s always something else to do.”

“You really learn a lot,” said Steele. “I’d recommend this course for anyone who’s really willing to put in the time. You get really in depth with anatomy and physiology. You learn everything there is to learn.”

Steele’s studying paid off when she correctly diagnosed a Jones’ fracture in an athlete’s ankle.

“If you’re going to do it, be prepared to work. There’s a lot of hands-on stuff, after school, but it’s really beneficial,” she said.

“It’s great to help them with this,” said Fuhrman, “because they’re not only learning something that’s going to prepare them with what they need in college, but they’ll have the knowledge later in their future. Years down the road, when they have their families, they’ll have kids, and now they will know what they need to do.”

The end result of Lockwood’s and Steele’s work will determine if Fuhrman will return with the program in years to come.

“This was sort of a test run,” he said, “and we’ll see at the end of the semester how it goes. I’d like to get two or three students each year into the program. It’s a great education tool and a good way to teach these kids what they need to know.”

“The course isn’t just here to teach you the basics, like just the joints, and ligaments, either,” noted Lockwood. “You learn the different tests you need to do to figure out what’s wrong. You’re constantly learning new things.”

“Todd’s done a great job teaching us everything,” said Steele, “and in taking that next step, I feel very confident that I can be successful.”