Photo by Michael Buckelew
CONYERS -- More than a dozen students took time from their summer to sharpen their skills to become student athletic trainers next school year.
For the fourth year, Kechia Seabrooks, athletic coordinator and trainer for Rockdale County Public Schools, held a summer camp at the Rockdale Career Academy for beginning, intermediate and advanced students who enrolled in the program. This year, 10 students returned to the program and six new ones signed up.
"I'm very encouraged with the amount (of students) coming back," Seabrooks said. "I think the ones who are in here now and visible in the schools have an impact on recruiting."
Students who enter the program will sign up to work with middle or high school sports teams to assist with minor injuries that occur during practices or games during the school year.
In the summer, they train for the next school year.
At the one-week summer camps for each skill level, students learn techniques of taping and helping with other minor injuries, get certified in CPR and first aid and study anatomy and rehabilitation.
In the end, all of the groups come together for a day.
"The new kids get to know the older kids so they can establish that relationship and have someone to go to for advice," Seabrooks said. "It's like a mentor-mentee program."
Some graduating seniors even came back this week to help the newer students -- Shawn Conerly and Morgan Pope plan to attend Valdosta State University and Taylor Jackson will attend the University of Georgia in the fall.
"I learned a lot about the body and how to rehabilitate injuries -- stuff I thought I wouldn't have needed to know," said Conerly, who graduated from Heritage High School and was involved in the program for all three years.
He plans to study athletic training at Valdosta State.
"I first got in this because I got hurt one time playing football, and I wanted to know how to fix it," he said. "I'm looking forward to learning about the more deep, intricate stuff."
He advises the beginner students to not neglect their work from the past years and to keep reviewing it because it remains helpful as they continue.
That's one reason Lejenae Johnson, a rising 11th-grader at Rockdale County High School, went a step further by taking the camp at RCA this summer. She also attended a camp at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and will attend another one at the University of Georgia, both intended for high school students studying to become athletic trainers.
"I wanted to learn more and wanted to go above and beyond ... so I could have different knowledge," she said.
Although she said the camps are more of a refresher course to her than learning a lot of new skills, they are helpful and will be helpful to her future.
"I've already learned most of the basics" at the Rockdale summer camp, she said. "I want to be an athletic trainer because it's a job I can be interested in. ... I don't want to get bored. It's something new all the time, and people need you. It's a different aspect of the medical field."
Seabrooks hopes to expand the program in the future and wants the training to eventually become a year-long program, rather than just a summer camp.