Rams donate $15,000 to ensure athletic trainers at local high school games

Jeff Fisher announced the Rams were stepping up to ensure the safety of local high school players. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When informed that football games in the St. Louis Public School league did not have certified athletic trainers at their games, Reggie Scott, the St. Louis Rams' director of sports medicine and performance, knew what had to be done.

“When we learned that SLPS didn’t have certified athletic trainer coverage at their high school games, we were committed to find a solution to that issue,” Scott said.

That solution was offered Thursday in the form of a $15,000 donation from the Rams to the SLPS to fund a program that ensures a certified athletic trainer will be available at all SLPS high school games this season. Further, the program will also offer weekly follow-up checks during the season and provide baseline concussion tests for the athletes.

“While the game coverage was of paramount importance, it was also important to us that we provided necessary follow-up care as well," Scott said. "We’re extremely proud that we were able to create a unique partnership with Athletico and Saint Louis University that will lead to a safer game for these student-athletes.”

Athletico Physical Therapy will provide the trainers for the games and will get assistance from athletic training students at nearby St. Louis University. The need for athletic trainers at football games of all levels has become more apparent in recent years.

A release from the Rams stated that the National Athletic Trainers Association produced a study stating that only about 50 percent of high school athletes have access to certified athletic trainers. The American Academy of Pediatrics also provided data showing that athletic trainers make a difference in lowering injury rates, improved diagnosis and help with when to return athletes to the field after concussions and other injuries.

Access to such trainers has proved to be particularly hard to come by for lower income schools districts such as the SLPS.

“The Saint Louis Public School District is humbled by the St. Louis Rams generosity,” said Martin Jenkins, the SLPS athletic director. “Funding such a vital aspect of interscholastic athletics is greatly appreciated. Adding trainers to the ongoing safety initiatives surrounding Public High League athletics will be a tremendous benefit to our student-athletes."

Rams coach Jeff Fisher made the announcement after his team's Thursday night practice.

“The [NFL] is all about player safety and improving in that area," Fisher said. "The league has an initiative and we’re proud to be able to provide some help in that regard.”