At almost every Scotland athletic event you’ll see Scotland High School athletic trainer Stephen Papay.
Night in and night out, Papay, along with long-time athletic trainer Zack McNeill, will be there to tape the injured, care for the wounded and make sure that every Fighting Scot is healthy when they hit the field or court.
For the past three years, Papay has not only taught athletes how to take care of themselves during a game, but how to properly care for their bodies outside of the game, providing students with an extensive sports medicine curriculum in the classroom.
This fall, Papay is instructing three Basic Sports Medicine classes, giving students an in-depth look at the anatomy and physiology that dictates how an athlete moves, plays and heals.
“Basically, we start off with learning about the overall field of athletic training,” Papay said. “We go over what we’re required to do as certified athletic trainers, the law and how it applies to athletic training and then some more of the organizational/administration dealings with athletic training.”
After the initial overview of what an athletic trainer does, the fun part of Papay’s class begins.
“After we get through the first few weeks of class, we dive into the anatomy of the body and how to treat injuries,” he said. “Once the students all get through the injury process, we move into the advanced portion of the class where students get to do more hands-on activities.”
Students in the Basic and Advanced Sports Medicine classes get to work with the Scots’ athletic teams, moving their way up from helping Papay on the sideline to treating injuries.
“The most hands-on work the kids get to do is during football season,” he said. “With the basic students, they learn a lot of CPR and first aid techniques. At the games, they’re what we like to call ‘hydration specialist.’ They help us get all the players their water. Once they get to the advanced class, they work with the basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball and soccer teams. Any sport we have at the high school, they’re working with those teams and learning about athletic training. It’s really a great first-hand look at the profession for them.”
This week in class, Papay and his students focused on the structure of the ankle and how to protect the ankle from injury. In one exercise, students learned how to properly tape an ankle and the technique that goes into the process to make sure that the area is stable.
Papay said that the blend of athletes and non-athletes in the class gives each student a unique view of athletic training and what it means to the world of sports.
“The class is great for some of the athletes because they learn a lot about rehabbing,” Papay said. “They learn a lot of exercises that help them build up their strength. They don’t even realize it. We’ll have football, basketball and track players come in and work on these exercises in class and they build up their stamina without even thinking about it. For the students in the class that are not participating in sports, it gives them a great jump in the field if they choose athletic training as a career. The classes really have something for everyone.”
Papay said that on the field, his class has helped athletes see early warning signs of potential injuries, like concussions.
“A lot of them, by virtue of being in the class, can recognize the symptoms of a concussion when they see that a teammate may be hurt,” he said. “They remember those signs and symptoms and can help report them to me. A lot of players won’t admit that they believe they have a concussion, so this helps our staff. It’s good to have athletes that look out for one another when they know the dangers of head trauma.”
For senior running back Ton McRae, the class has been an eye opener for his recovery methods after games.
“The class has been a big help when it comes to helping me recover,” McRae said. “I feel like it also helps me with my teammates because if we’re at a game and for some reason Papay isn’t there, I can actually help a little bit in treating them. We get to do a lot of the stuff he does and its’ a lot of fun.”
Sophomore Briana Broussard said that she’s most enjoyed putting into practice what she’s learned in the classroom.
“I love the fact that we actually get to do hands on stuff,” she said. “We get to go to the games and put what we learn into action. I don’t think a lot of classes get to do that.”
For Papay, having a class dedicated to providing students the knowledge of how protect themselves on, and off, the field is an opportunity he hopes students will not pass up.
“At the high school level, this is a great introductory class for students who are thinking about joining the field,” Papay said. “There aren’t a lot of schools offering opportunities like this. It really gets you prepared heading into college. The hands-on experience is invaluable. I think it teaches a lot of the kids some of the skills and tools they need to succeed both on the field and off of it.”