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According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times Certified Athletic Trainers are set to become the latest safety improvement in athletic events and practices at Tampa Bay area high schools.

Over the years I have investigated numerous injuries and some deaths occurring during physical education classes, team practices and events. In some instances it was obvious that delay in obtaining professional attention for an injury made matters worse. Full-time athletic trainers are a big step in the right direction.

School athletics could get safer

…safety is getting a higher profile on the playing field. Certified athletic trainers are expected to take up residence at Hillsborough high schools, courtesy of the University of South Florida’s sports medicine program.

“So many of the injuries that occur in athletics occur in practice,” Hillsborough’s athletic director, Vernon Korhn, told School Board members at a workshop Wednesday. While coaches are trained for emergencies and safe practices, he welcomes experts.

“We’re talking about full-time athletic trainers all year long, for all of our sports, which would be a huge benefit,” he said.

Parents in the Tampa Bay area don’t need reminders about the potential dangers in sports for children. Two boys – ages 11 and 12 – died this summer after youth football league practices.

In January, an 8-year-old boy died after practicing with a soccer club. A year earlier, a 17-year-old Alonso High baseball player collapsed and died after a running exercise.

“Seconds mean life,” said Eric Coris, a physician and director of the division of sports medicine at USF. “The safety net for the high school athlete – or any athlete – is the athletic trainer.”

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