Call for review of sports coaches after the death of a student athlete | Local news
Following the unexpected death of a 16-year-old Citrus High School student during Tuesday’s soccer practice, some wonder if local medical professionals could have made a difference.
While the cause of death is unknown and school authorities have opened an investigation into the case, school officials are likely to reconsider whether to review the need for sports coaches during school sports exercises and games.
The Citrus County School District does not employ them, but a proposal was made to school authorities during a workshop in 2008 to do so, saying they could help prevent injuries and resolve medical emergencies.
Sports trainers should not be confused with personal trainers. Sports coaches are required to have a bachelor’s degree in a health field followed by a two-year master’s degree in athletic training.
The school districts in the surrounding Marion, Sumter, and Levy counties employ exercise coaches to oversee the drills and games. Citrus and Hernando Counties don’t.
“The reason we have them is for situations like this,” Levy County’s risk manager Kalee Wade said when speaking to the Chronicle about death.
âWe just thought it would be better for our athletes. We are very happy with the program, âshe said.
Levy County employs them for its combined middle and high schools.
Jonny Bishop is assistant director of business and support services for the Citrus County School District.
In 2008 he led a workshop presentation of the school committee for his boss, Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel, in which he presented the advantages of sports coaches and asked the board for support in order to move forward.
He didn’t get what he wanted.
Instead, Bishop received a lukewarm welcome and preliminary assistance if he could move money from other programs, according to a volume from the workshop discussed by the Chronicle.
Bishop warned the board in 2008 that schools had no mechanism to provide medical supervision during sports and that hiring sports coaches would provide that benefit.
He stated that 75% of injuries occur during exercise. Bishop also told the school board that sports coaches in other counties had to provide medical care to his school’s athletes during away games.
He told the board that he had polled other school districts and of the 38 that responded, 28 had sports coaches.
School board member Linda Powers told Bishop during the workshop that she believed coaches had basic medical training.
Bishop replied that they didn’t go beyond first aid.
“Your knowledge is limited,” he replied.
Bishop continued, “I think the most important thing is to get first aid,” suggesting that exercise coaches could do just that.
The plan would have been to have athletic coaches in as many sports and games as possible, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball.
Heaven also warned the board that other counties would be hiring them and wanted Citrus to do the same.
“We got districts that call us now and say that they won’t schedule us (for games) anymore if we don’t have (sports) coaches,” said Himmel during the workshop.
Bishop said the starting cost for physical education coaches for the district’s three high schools would be about $ 185,000, and then after that first year it would be $ 125,000 annually.
“Ultimately, I would like to receive guidance from you as the board of directors on whether we should continue to pursue this (issue) or hold back or whatever,” he said.
On the tape, an unidentified school employee told the board that a sports coach’s focus is on the student’s well-being, while sometimes a coach is more focused on training.
This employee informed the board that the school district needed a medical person on site.
For the board of directors, this issue was about costs.
âI am not against doing this. I’m just against spending more money, âsaid board member Pat Deutschman, who is no longer on the board.
She later said, “If we can find the money by moving it, I have no problem with it … but no new money.”
“When it comes to new money, we can’t afford it,” she said.
Board member Bill Murray said he was keen to see if the district would be able to pay part and any school that wanted sports coaches to pay the rest by “sacrificing their budgets.”
Board member Louis Miele said he had not seen any sports coaches providing emergency care.
“We do not provide emergency medical treatment by hiring sports coaches,” he said. “If it was a security thing, I could buy it.”
Linda Powers said the district should first consider what financial cuts Florida lawmakers are making before making decisions about new programs.
Himmel told the Chronicle through spokeswoman Lindsay Blair that she would not discuss the matter with the newspaper in light of the ongoing investigation.
Friday’s Chronicle asked Bishop if he would bring the matter up to the board again. He replied no. He said he had made his presentation and that there was no appeal to address her again.
Linda Powers and Ginger Bryant, who were school board members in 2008, are still school board members.
Bryant told the Chronicle that she did not remember the workshop.
When asked by the Chronicle if she would be willing to revisit the topic of hiring sports coaches, she replied, “I think it depends on what we find out about this young (deceased student).”
With the new budget already ready, a new program is not possible now, but maybe later, she said.
âWe want to take care of our babies,â she said of the district’s students.
Powers said she only “vaguely” remembered the meeting and would listen to the tape.
She said she was sure cost was a factor, but didn’t remember any details.
She said she was open to any suggestion and “not just in response to something (that) happened”.
After listening to the tape herself, Powers told The Chronicle that she felt the board was ready to look into the future of athletic coaching, inviting school sporting directors to contribute and review funding opportunities.
Doug Dodd currently serves on the school board and president of the Florida High School Athletic Association.
“I would be very interested in having a discussion on recruiting athletic coaches in Citrus County,” he told the Chronicle.
But he also said, “I don’t want people trying to connect dots to something else that could have been done here,” referring to the recent student death.
âThere are definitely ways in which we could provide additional support for our student athletes with sports coaches,â he said.
Kevin Christian, spokesman for the Marion County school district, said his exercise coaches have an important role to play.
“They want someone to watch these student athletes so they can see any signs of illness before anything serious happens,” he said.
Justin McMahan is from Lecanto and is completing his clinical rotation as part of his Masters program in Athletic Training at the University of South Florida. He has worked and provided sports coaching services for the USF women’s basketball team, Plant City High School, and St. Leo University.
He said some of the benefits of having sports coaches are that they have logs if student athletes injure themselves while playing or exercising.
They also have the power to pull student athletes out of games and exercises, and override coaches if necessary, McMahan told the Chronicle.
He said that sports coaches serve as a first-line service and are trained to spot subtle health issues that might go unnoticed by other school sports staff focused on other issues.
He also said that athletic coaches will accompany the student after an injury to ensure they receive the rehabilitation care they need and to provide information to doctors and parents of injured students.
“I believe that every school should have an athletic coach when they’re big at the sport,” he said. “Ultimately, the student’s life is more important than the game.”