It was a pre-emptive strike on the behalf of Churchill County High School’s athletic trainer.
About 20 people attended the Churchill County School District’s Board of Trustees meeting Thursday in response to a possible recommendation for eliminating the position held by Melissa Osterhage.
According to CCHS Principal Kevin Lords, however, the position was removed off the cut list this week at the request of several trustees. Osterhage was hired by the district three years ago.
The position was not on the agenda at the meeting and no action was taken. Trustee President Ron Evans told the concerned athletes, coaches and parents no decision has been made and, if they wanted, could deliver their comments at a special board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Later in the meeting, Evans again stressed the board had not made any deicisons regarding the position.
The special meeting will address numerous positions throughout the district to be eliminated due to budget shortfalls.
Despite the position appearing to have been saved, Fallon head football coach Brooke Hill, though, wasn’t interested in waiting to voice his opinion. The longtime coach, who’s on-field career spans more than 18 years, said an athletic trainer is a must for the school, district, athletes, parents and coaches.
“You can get rid of coaches, the athletic director, but the one thing you can’t get rid of is the trainer,” he said. “To me, it’s probably the most important issue. For my peace of mind, I want someone there who can handle the situation.”
Hill, along with assistant coach Lalo Otuafi and freshman football coach Dean Schultz, said they would most likely not coach again in the district without a trainer.
Lack of medical training and legal liability, they said, tops the list as serious areas of concern.
“As far it comes to a trainer, to a child’s health, it’s something I cannot do as a coach,” Otuafi said. “If it came down to it … but I could not coach at the high school if that happened (removed the position). With concussions from the NFL all the way down to the little kids, I’m not comfortable making that decision.”
Schultz spoke about how his son, Jordan Schultz, is back on the football field and track because of the presence of an athletic trainer.
Jordan Schultz suffered a dislocated ankle in March 2013, and with Osterhage’s presence and connections, received quick care, underwent surgery and was back on the field in August for the Greenwave.
“There are a lot of parents that can say the same thing,” Dean Schultz said. “It is vital for our athletic department to have one (athletic trainer). Here’s the problem, we are not trainers, we are coaches. I don’t want to take that liability. There are a lot of people who have questioned whether they would coach or not without a trainer.”
The lack of medical knowledge, plus Osterhage’s institution of preventive care, on-field support and diagnosing various injuries gives all involved a level of security.
Three Fallon varsity softball players — Rileigh Ricken, Ali Tedford and Shelby Lawry — all spoke on behalf of Osterhage. They detailed treatments and career opportunities provided by Osterhage.
Jessica Huckaby, who has six children including four at CCHS involved with sports, also detailed her experiences after her son suffered his second concussion in four months.
She said Osterhage was able to recognize the signs of a mild concussion and instituted concussion protocols. In addition, Osterhage has also treated Huckaby’s son for a dislocated shoulder at an away game in Spring Creek instead of having the player transported to the hospital.
“Luckily we had a trainer on staff who recognized the concussion symptoms,” Huckaby said. “The coaches didn’t even notice.”