The NFL Foundation, in collaboration with Gatorade, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), announced the launch of a pilot program to provide funding to public high schools with football programs that have limited or no access to an athletic trainer. This program is an expansion of the athletic trainer initiatives developed and implemented by the NFL Foundation and its partners over the past two years.
The NFL Foundation will award up to 150 grants to high schools in the four pilot states. Each grant will be in the amount of $35,000 awarded over a three-year period to fund an athletic training program. The number of grants provided will be at the discretion of an appointed review panel.
“The NFL is committed to enhancing the safety of football at all levels,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are proud of the important work that athletic trainers do on the sidelines and in training facilities nationwide. We look forward to testing this pilot program as part of our effort to increase access to athletic trainers in local communities and improve sports safety for many more young athletes.”
“The NFL Foundation is proud that this athletic trainer pilot program, one that was originally developed at the club level, is expanding to serve more young athletes,” said NFL Foundation chairman Charlotte Jones Anderson. “NFL teams have long seen the value of athletic trainers’ knowledge, and experience when it comes to health and safety and this program will help provide that same expertise at the high school level.”
An athletic trainer is a licensed medical professional who has specific expertise in preventing, recognizing, treating and rehabilitating athletic injuries. However, nearly two-thirds of high schools across the country lack a full-time athletic trainer and almost 30 percent of high schools do not have any athletic trainer at all. This pilot program will test ways in which to address this issue.
“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is committed to enhancing the quality of health care that young athletes receive through access to athletic trainers,” said NATA president Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. “Together, we can ensure best practices are put in place in underserved schools, to reduce risk of injury and make sports safer for all communities.”
This pilot program builds on the NFL Foundation’s athletic trainer grant program established two years ago to help NFL teams increase access to athletic trainers in their communities. To date, 20 NFL clubs have utilized these grants to support local schools and leagues. This program has underscored the need for funding for athletic trainers and provided useful insight into potential methods of addressing this need.
“For more than 50 years, we’ve been committed to athletes’ safety, performance and success – and based on this experience, we know how important athletic trainers are to our mission,” said Jeff Kearney, head of Gatorade Sports Marketing. “We’re excited to build on the success of our 2015 efforts and believe this program is an important part of our overall commitment to helping ensure the safety of the more than eight million high school athletes in the U.S.”
The Korey Stringer Institute will lead the administration of the grant program and conduct research to assess the impact of the pilot program and the effect of athletic trainers on student athlete health outcomes.
“The massive responsibility of keeping many hundreds of athletes safe at a particular high school should never be the responsibility of a sport coach or the athletic director, they have no training to properly handle this task,” said KSI chief executive officer Douglas Casa, PhD, ATC, FNAK, FACSM, FNATA. “We are very proud to partner with this grant program that has a primary goal of increasing the number of schools serviced by an athletic trainer and to enhance the amount of medical care for those that already have some.”
Further information on the program and the grant process and eligibility can be found at www.athletictrainergrant.com.