Keeter Hayes spends his nights cleaning up bloody noses, scheduling physical therapy appointments and making sure high school athletes are safe on the playing fields.
Some nights, North Myrtle Beach High School’s athletic trainer has to keep his eyes on 250 kids all at the same time. Some Horry County Schools staff are trying to change that.
$493,652 Budgeted cost of six new athletic trainers
Members of the staff and the Board of Education are attempting to make practice and games safer for student athletes by adding another athletic trainer to six of the largest high schools. Currently there’s only one athletic trainer per AAA and AAAA high schools, so many students are not supervised properly during athletic practices and games.
“We really need this to happen,” Hayes said. “We need to be able to take care of the these kids, and we need to be able to go home sometimes.”
Hayes said he frequently works 10- to 16-hour days and, if he has to travel with a team, he doesn’t get home until midnight or later. He’s spent the last 19 years at North Myrtle Beach High teaching sports management in the morning and supervising athletes’ warmups, practices and games most nights.
A little help would go a long way, Hayes said.
“You can’t just do it and have any life at all,” he said.
Janice Morreale, Board of Education member, initiated a change to that situation earlier this month. She motioned to add another athletic trainer to six of the district’s largest high schools while keeping the assistant trainer position as well.
The six schools who may get more trainers are: Conway High; Carolina Forest High; Myrtle Beach High; Socastee High; St. James High; and North Myrtle Beach High.
Six high schools have one athletic trainer and a stipend for an assistant trainer. The assistant at most schools is a teacher who gets paid a stipend for assisting with athletics.
That leaves one person to monitor students, stretch out athletes, treat injuries and schedule doctor visits for hundreds of students. The state also changed open season rules so student-athletes can practice with a team earlier and more frequently, which means trainers sometimes have to monitor hundreds of students at the same time.
Some students recognized the value of an on-hand trainer, especially when they were injured. Tracer Stewart, an eight-grader, was playing soccer when the ball smacked him between the eyes and his nose started to bleed. After the game he headed over to “Coach Hayes,” who made sure Stewart didn’t break any bones.
“It’s safer to be treated here quickly rather than having to drive somewhere,” Stewart said.
Students do not pay for any athletic trainer treatments.
If approved, the district will set aside $493,652 for all six positions, but that’s just if every trainer has a Master’s degree and serves as a full-time trainer, John Gardner, chief financial officer, said.
I take care of these kids for free instead of them going to the hospital for a $80,000 bill. We save them money, and the value is in how we take of our people.
Keeter Hayes, North Myrtle Beach High athletic trainer
Horry County Schools routinely budgets half a million dollars for certain school improvements and building projects. In 2014, the board approved $500,000 to renovate and light Conway High’s track and another $500,000 for new “traffic loops” around St. James High, Daisy Elementary and Seaside Elementary. The district has also asked for a recurring $525,000 per year as “signing” bonuses for critical needs teachers, though the 2016-17 budget will not be finalized until June.
The cost is worth it, for Hayes.
“Are you going to put a value on a kid’s health? Are you going to put a value on a kid’s life?” Hayes said.
The motion allows for schools to hire either a second full-time trainer or give a financial supplement to a teacher who would also serve as a second trainer. The principals at each school would decide which option fit his or her needs best, officials said.
If an assistant trainer is promoted to a full trainer, the schools must replace the assistant position with another trainer/teacher.
The six schools that may get more trainers are: Conway High; Carolina Forest High; Myrtle Beach High; Socastee High; St. James High; and North Myrtle Beach High. The board of education will discuss the motion during a meeting in May.
Claire Byun: 843-626-0381, @Claire_TSN