When I was first told that club athletes did not have access to the athletic trainers on campus, I was shocked. After all, it is entirely possible to get injured during a club sport, and it would make sense that the student’s injury should be taken care of professionally. Rugby games are required to have a trainer at the field, but outside of games, the team is on their own.
The Norton Medical Center is not exactly a perfect solution either. They focus mainly on illnesses, and do not provide services such as physical therapy, which are essential to an injured athlete. Many of my teammates on the Ultimate Frisbee club team, as well as friends who participate in a variety of club sports such as tennis, wrestling and soccer, suffer from sports-related injuries. Knowing that they are not getting the medical attention they need is concerning.
Athletes with long-lasting issues are particularly affected by the inability to see trainers. For instance, if a club athlete pulls, twists, or sprains a muscle or ligament, or if they hurt themselves in a way that requires bandaging, icing, and any sort of equipment, Wheaton’s athletic trainers are not available to provide them with the professional help they require. Many times I have seen injured club athletes go to Chase Dining Hall to obtain ice for an injury.
Though the ice still technically comes from the school, Chase (understandably) does not provide bandages or slings, does not have ice baths, or have any other services that can help an injured student. Chase is a food facility, and as useful as the ice is, it is meant for dining services, not medical. However, it is often the only option that club athletes have to make sure they can heal to the best of their ability.
Another issue is that club athletes are unable to obtain professional advice regarding their injury. Many club athletes have a basic notion of first aid, applying ice, stretching, etc. But if an experienced figure advised the athlete on specific exercises, stretches, and various other treatments, there would be a much quicker recovery time and a smaller chance of re-aggravating the injury. It is unfortunate that a club athlete who needs expert advice on their injury is unable to use Wheaton’s facility that is dedicated to helping injured athletes.
One of the most important injuries that require professional assistance are concussions. Those playing club sports do not receive a concussion baseline test, despite the test’s rising importance. This test is crucial, especially when playing a contact sport, namely rugby, where the chance of a head injury is significantly higher than in other sports. Not all injuries happen during a game, and Wheaton should be prepared to help all students, even if they do not play a varsity sport.
I have trouble thinking of many student athletes that have not had an injury at some point in their college career, varsity and club alike. The fact that so many club athletes have to scrounge for solutions and Google their way to recovery is unnerving, and I personally believe that this way of managing without professional advice should not be necessary. Club athletes run the same amount of risk of getting hurt; it would seem fair that club athletes have just as much ability to go to the trainers as the varsity athletes.
However, I have been told that preliminary steps are being taken to make sure that club sport athletes no longer have to make-do by taking bags of ice from the dining halls. I wish luck to those lobbying for the cause. Whether it be hiring more trainers or having more open hours so more athletes can check in, I support every action that goes towards creating a system where any athlete can get the medical attention they need.