When people think of Friday Night Lights, they typically think of football players running out to their cheering fans, the band marching at halftime, or the drill team performing in the stands. Many people may not stop to notice the students in green shirts and khakis, out on the field long before and after the game has ended. These students are often the heroes of the night – helping the quarterback wrap his ankle so he can get back in the game or keeping the players hydrated so they can finish strong and get the victory. They are the student trainers – those responsible for helping the athletic trainer with all of her many duties.
This year’s student trainers are senior Tiffany Cates, junior Paitton Johnson, and sophomore Tristen Doe. Their responsibilities include performing physical therapy on athletes, helping refer injured athletes to a doctor, and keeping the players hydrated.
During football season, the trainers are required to go to all of the practices and refill the player’s water bottles. They also set up and tape the football fields before practices and games. Even though their hard work may go unnoticed at times, the trainers play a huge role behind the scenes. Cates has been the head student trainer since her sophomore year and said it’s not just about being on the sidelines giving players water.
“It’s about taking care of the ones who are hurt and bonding with others,” she said. “To me it means to learn different things about the body and how to treat it if you are an athlete and to help take care of people who get hurt during a game.
Cates said she has wanted to be a physical therapist since she was little.
“Being a student trainer was the one thing that caught my attention in high school and I wanted to learn more about it,” she said. “The best part about being a trainer is creating a bond with the other trainers and being there for the players when they need it.”
If an emergency happens on the field during a game, the trainers will walk out with head trainer Sheri Hoffpauir and grab everything they need to help, all while remaining calm despite how severe an injury might be. Their objective is to find out what is going on and how to fix it.
“The main challenge for me as the head student trainer is not knowing every little thing because I am still learning,” Cates said.
According to Doe, being a trainer is an opportunity to better prepare her for her future career, even though it can be challenging.
“I wanted to become a trainer because it will help open opportunities for my later career,” she said. “Even though it is very time consuming and stressful at times, it is also a lot of fun. Winning games is one of the best parts of being a trainer.”
Cates said her favorite experience has been being right in the middle of the action on Friday nights.
“I love being on the sidelines with the players and hearing people from every side talk about the game, as well as being right on top of the action,” she said. “Memories are made with everything we do so I think just being a trainer for LCM High School is a great memory itself.”
Hoffpauir, the athletic trainer, said each one of the girls brings something different to help in the training room.
“Tiffany is a natural leader and teacher who has the most experience and helps all of us stay on track by making sure our kits are stocked properly,” Hoffpauir said. “She makes lists that help us make sure we have everything we need for practices and games. She can help tape almost any part of the body and can get the proper braces for injuries. Paitton’s even, rational temperament helps all of us stay calmer and is great in an emergency. She is willing to help and always makes sure things are done of she is unable to be at a practice. She works hard to learn new skills and is a fast learner. Tristen is a very upbeat person, even when things may not be going well. She keeps all of us grounded and is a hard worker and fast learner. She is great at double checking our list and making sure we have everything. She does well in emergency situations and is a natural leader when she needs to be.”
Hoffpauir said her student trainers are some of the hardest working ladies out there, and they always go above and beyond to make sure they learn and perfect new skills to aid in helping take care of the student athletes.
“They take their responsibilities very seriously and are invaluable to me in the training room, at practice, and on the game field,” she said. “They often go above and beyond to help me out and to make my job easier. I am very proud of each of these young ladies.”