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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo Colter Vick (left), an athlete at McDonald County High School, consults with Doug Ashton, the school's athletic trainer from Freeman Health Systems, following a morning workout at MCHS.

McDonald County High School was recently awarded the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Safe Sports School Award for its athletics program.

The award champions safety and recognizes secondary schools that have met the recommended standards to improve safety in sports. The award reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention, and treatment.

"We are honored to receive this second team recognition from NATA," said Bo Bergen, athletic director at MCHS. "We remain committed to keeping our student-athletes safe during physical education classes, team practices and games so they can accomplish their own goals of great competition, winning records, fair sportsmanship and good health. Our goal is to lead our athletics program to the highest safety standards for our athletes."

Safety of student-athletes not only is an immediate result of the diligence of the MCHS staff, but those efforts also provide long-term rewards, according to Tory Lindley, president of the NATA.

"The health and safety of student-athletes is critical as it has both immediate and long-term effects," Lindley said. "NATA created the 'Safe Sports School Award' to recognize and champion schools nationwide that are committed to enhancing safety in sports. We are proud to see the list of award recipients grow exponentially each year as schools see the immense value in holding themselves to best practices and policies that ensure a high standard of athlete care."

In order to achieve Safe Sports School status, the McDonald County athletic program did the following:

● Create a positive athletic health care administrative system;

● Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations;

● Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities;

● Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment;

● Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes;

● Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions;

● Provide or facilitate injury intervention;

● Create and rehearse a venue-specific emergency action plan;

● Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education; and,

● Be sure athletes and parents are educated about the potential benefits and risks in sports, as well as their responsibilities.

To apply, schools complete an in-depth questionnaire that assesses adherence to best practice standards and recommendations. For more information about the Safe Sports School Award, visit www.athletictrainers.org.

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