As campus gradually reopens, the athletic training rooms have opened their doors along with it. The athletic training team includes Head Athletic Trainer Michael Kuta, Associate Athletic Trainer Amy Wiggins, and Assistant Athletic Trainer Devin O’Reilly. According to Kuta, the team has worked closely with the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center to design a safe, proactive athletic program to support athletes even amid the pandemic.
“The athletic trainers in general work together with the Sykes Wellness team and the athletic department team. We all work together and it’s far reaching. It’s not just taking care of injuries, but athletic trainers are trained with the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. We have spent a lot of time designing a safe program, as safe as we can make it. Everything from practice design to facilities to preventative programs for heat,” said Kuta.
According to O’Reilly, the trainers are taking the necessary steps to stay open during Covid-19. The team uses an appointment-based system to minimize crowding in training areas, while also providing its usual services in accordance with distancing protocols.
“We are by appointment only. Each training room has a signup genius calendar that students can go on and sign up for an appointment. Before going in the training room, students do a symptom screening check and if the student passes the symptom screening check, they are allowed to come in during their allotted appointment time. Each training room has tables at least six feet apart, sometimes ten, and we have set up barriers so students are separated and the athletic training staff can protect themselves, so we provide the same services to get back from injuries in a welcoming environment,” said. O’Reilly.
According to O’Reilly, the training team is currently assisting athletes through their recovery processes, while working with other athletes on movement fundamentals to prevent injury.
“My role here at Andover as a trainer is to prevent and help people get back from injuries. We prevent injuries by correcting students on important techniques, stretching, and all those things. And then when students are injured, we are there to assist them through the rehab process and help them get through an injury and help them get back to play their sport,” said O’Reilly.
Despite Covid-19 restrictions, the training rooms are still functioning as important spaces for students to bond and forge connections with the trainers, according to Wiggins.
“The students [are what I love most about Andover]. They make me happy. I enjoy meeting all the students we have. We have great conversations in the training room. We talk about not only their injuries and getting better, but we talk about everything and we have great discussions,” said Wiggins.
While operating with fewer people at a time, the training room continues to meet the physical needs for Andover athletes and create a fun atmosphere, according to Eliza Dow ’22.
“I have been going to the trainers every day after practice to ensure an old injury doesn’t come back because it has been starting to resurface during practice. I go to the trainers to stretch and work with the affected area and then get ice. The [training room] has been different since [Covid-19] because there are a lot less people, but the positive energy in the room hasn’t changed,” said Dow.
According to Wiggins, the return to campus posed various challenges due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the training team has been able to adapt and continue to support athletes.
“This year, we had to be really creative to bring the service to you and get our rooms set for social distancing and [Covid-19]-related reasons. This year has dramatically changed us, but I think the three of us have put together the best that we can put forward in trying to get our services out there to all the students that need it,” said Wiggins.