Grafton’s athletic coach ponders after responding to a serious hockey injury

By Kevin J. Stone, Contributing Author

Sarah Mealy works as an athletic trainer at Grafton High School.

GRAFTON – Sarah Mealy, the Grafton High School (GHS) athletic trainer, found herself in a position earlier this winter where instinct meant more than any previous workout she had before that moment.

When the Grafton / BVT boys’ hockey team was playing against the Milford / Hopedale co-op team, Milford / Hopedale player Aiden Collins had badly injured his wrist from an opponent’s skate.

Since Mealy had grown up and played hockey herself, she knew time was running out when she saw the injury.

“When I look at my background as a hockey player, you just leave when you see something like this,” Mealy said in a recent telephone interview.

She was one of several people who rushed to Collins’ side to bring up what his father recently told the Worcester Telegram it was a life-threatening injury.

Athletic trainer goes a unique path to role

Mealy is only 26 years old and is in her fourth year at GHS. But she’s already showing that she’s among the best in the state at what she does.

Mealy grew up in King Philip Regional High School, playing hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse before joining UConn.

There Mealy gained invaluable experience working with the women’s basketball team, which made her fall in love with the job of a sports coach even more than she already had.

Before that, however, her initial introduction to the field was slightly different from most of the others.

“When I was younger there was this whole feature about the coach of the Celtics in the Boston Globe,” she explained. “Of course there was a picture of him on the pitch with a player and I had never seen anything like it. I thought it was the coolest thing that you can grow up and help athletes on such a large scale. “

After seeing this article and growing up, “which felt like any sport,” Mealy said she had thought about the subject and decided that she should pursue a career in athletic training.

“It felt like a breeze to land in this position,” she said.

Mealy stood on the proverbial big stage with the women’s basketball team from UConn.

From then on, however, she realized that she would rather work in high school.

“To be completely honest, it wasn’t for me,” she said. “Of course I was very lucky to have this experience. But I come from a really small town and it was a shock to the system to be in a cut, business-like position at such a high level. “

She gained high school-level experience and said she felt she could interact well with athletes in this age group.

She said she appreciated the opportunity to be a connection between coaches, career counselors, parents and doctors in her role as an athletic coach.

“It’s a huge spider web of communication that has to happen, and I think my personal skills and personality are just a better fit,” she said. “At this college level, I can’t tell you how many athletes I’ve seen forced to switch or switch because they failed for one reason or another and that was pretty tough on me.”

Athletic trainer adapts to changing requirements

Mealy said she saw her job description change over time and she adjusted to now have an emphasis on the mental health of student athletes.

Mealy accepted that, but said she wanted more support for her work.

She said incidents like the skate cut Aiden Collins suffered underscore that need.

“Our country is doing such a great job with academic support, we have career counselors and all of these counselors that are necessary for all academic support, but there is not much emphasis on the athletic side, which amazes me,” she said.

“We place so much emphasis on the value of sport at every level – youth, high school, club, college, pro, whatever – but it’s crazy to me that we don’t place the same value on a role that actually so look out for these athletes across the board, ”she added.

Comments are closed.