Source: Sherman Publications

Even the best machines fail without a mechanic
The Orion sports teams are up and running, jumping and throwing, but without the trainer athletes might stay injured

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

September 05, 2012

Mending athletes is all in a day’s work for Chelsea Warner, Lake Orion High School’s athletic trainer.

“As the athletic trainer I have to take care of, treat and prevent all types of injuries for my athletes,” Warner said.

Warner has her work cut out for her. By her estimate, the high school has around 56 sports teams which contain roughly 1,800 athletes, with about 15 of those teams active in the fall and in the summer before school starts. Summer vacation, for Warner, runs from about the end of June to the end of July, ending when the football team starts having formal two-a-day practices in August.

“It gets a little crazy down here, but it’s mostly fun,” Warner said.

Warner’s path to becoming an athletic trainer actually started at Lake Orion several years ago. As a student at the high school, Warner took Human Anatomy and said it was her favorite class. So when she went to college, Warner looked for a job that combined her love of sciences and her other love: being active. Initially, going into physical therapy seemed like the answer, but after some job shadowing and “weeder” classes involving advanced chemistry and biochemistry, Warner went back to her counselor to find something else that would make use of the requirements she had already met. The counselor suggested athletic training, “so I took some classes and I loved it,” Warner said.

The road back to Lake Orion took a while. Warner got her first job as an athletic trainer in 2008 in Holland, Michigan, but she knew she wanted to get a job in Lake Orion. She remained in touch with Lake Orion High School Athletic Director Bill Reiss and he kept her in the loop when the job opened up.

“It’s kind of cool how it worked out because I always wanted to come back here to raise a family and stuff, because my whole family’s still around,” Warner said.

A typical day during the school year starts between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., when Warner arrives at the high school to get water ready for various practices. Students start to arrive at 2:30 p.m. for taping, which lasts until around 4 p.m., by which point most practices have started. Once practices are underway, Warner has to do rounds between practices and any events going on, keeping her phone handy in case an injury happens when she is at a different site. This usually lasts until 9 p.m., when all of the practices are over and Warner cleans up and heads home to prepare for the next day. Winter involves a similar routine, albeit a more contained one, as most of the practices are indoors or at a separate site with its own trainer.

“I knew coming on that this was going to be a big job, but I was still totally surprised by how much stuff happens at this high school,” Warner said. “

Regardless of the sport, Warner has to be prepared for any sort of injury, knowing that a traumatic injury could happen on the football field or in the pool. Still, the athletes are fun to work with, driving Warner crazy on some days while making her laugh on others.

“I like to know that I’m doing a good service for people,” Warner said. “Just that sort of recognition that I did something to help them, that’s the thing that rewards me the most out of this job—knowing that I was able to do something to help somebody.”