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Helmet sticker gives athletic trainers the spotlight

Posted at 4:15 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 17:15:25-04

For the first time ever, both Elkhorn and Elkhorn South will play each other as Class A schools. But that's not the only change taking place tonight as both schools will also wear a special sticker on their helmet.

"This is just a huge awareness campaign to let people know we're here and what we do is more than just hydration," says Whitney Vessar, head athletic trainer, Elkhorn High School.

The initiative is meant to highlight schools with full time athletic trainers,it kicked off last night, when both Creighton Prep and Omaha North donned the special Nebraska School Athletic Trainers Association sticker on their helmets.

"Trainers are kind of behind the scenes and if you know about us it's kind of a bad thing because somebody is injured so it means a lot to get recognized to do that and show off what we do," says Bill Kleber,  head athletic trainer, Creighton Prep.

Around a decade ago, just a handful of schools in the metro had full-time athletic trainers, things have changed. 

"In Omaha we're lucky, every high school has access to an athletic trainer," says Kleber.  

The importance of having a full time trainer on staff has become more prevalent as concussion research has shown how dangerous the head injuries can be. 

"That early intervention, that early rest, making sure they have appropriate academic load that's maybe modified in some way, shape or form. And just managing the symptoms in the right manners makes a big difference in the outcome,"  says Danielle Kleber, past president, NSATA. 

Still many schools throughout the state, especially in rural Nebraska, use an outreach model, where the trainer comes once or twice a week to check in. 

"We still see a shortage in coverage in your Class C and D schools," says Kleber.

Elkhorn trainer Whitney Vessar says her job has changed immensely in her 11 years, specifically regarding concussions. She says being at the school full-time is important for the athletes. 

"We get to check in with our patients every day, do continual care day-to-day. Having somebody there that the athletes can check in on and trust and there to listen makes care seamless." 

This sticker campaign is not just going away after tonight, in fact Bellevue East and Bellevue West will both be wearing them next week when the play each other next Friday. 


NSAA Concussion Guidlines 
Brain Injury Study