NFL expands program for high school trainers in underserved markets

by Jeff Fisher

With the economics of sports getting harder-and-harder for school districts to keep pace, the National Football League and several partners are again teaming-up to help schools pay for athletic trainers.

At the 66th annual National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) Clinical Symposium in St. Louis on Wednesday, NATA, the NFL, Gatorade and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society announced that the groups were doubling funding for its athletic trainer outreach program for the 2015-16 school year. 

For the coming school year, the groups will contribute $2 million to the program that to date has impacted 160,000 youth athletes at 670 schools nationwide.  Last year’s contribution was $1 million. In addition to the funding, the groups will provide educational resources, hydration solutions, equipment and programmatic support.

“The NFL Foundation is proud to expand this program to more schools keeping more athletes of

all levels safer,” said Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson, chair of the NFL Foundation. “We are pleased that Gatorade is joining NATA, PFATS and NFL teams as we continue improving youth athlete safety across all sports for boys and girls by making available athletic trainers across the country.”

“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association continues to champion the need for increased athletic trainers and the importance of sports safety protocols in high schools across the country,” saidJim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES. “With just 37 percent of all high schools having full-time athletic trainers, we know the expanded NFL Foundation high school initiative with the support of NATA, Gatorade and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society will help to ensure best practices are in place for underserved schools. Together, we will improve the quality of health care young athletes receive.”

“We know how important secondary school athletic trainers are to the health and safety of the over eight million U.S. high school athletes – which is why supporting this profession has been a focus of our 30+year partnership with the NATA,” said Jeff Kearney, senior director, Gatorade Sports Marketing. “We believe this program is an important step toward the ultimate goal of having a full-time athletic trainer in every high school in the country, and we couldn’t be more excited to support the NFL and NATA’s efforts.”

“The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society has a longstanding commitment to youth
sports safety and recognizes the important role we play in providing NFL athletic trainers on-site
at schools for additional expertise and education,” says Rick Burkholder, MS, ATC, PFATS
president and head athletic trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs.”

“Our collaborative work with the NFL Foundation, NFL teams and NATA in year one of this program had such terrific impact and success that we know this expanded effort, now with Gatorade’s support, will make a difference in the health care these young athletes receive.”

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.