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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
ASHBURNHAM — "Compassionate care for all." That's the 2018 motto of the National Athletic Trainers Association. The daily work of Gianna Allen is strong proof of those words.
The 26-year-old Ms. Allen, a member of the NATA, is close to completing her fourth academic year as the athletic trainer and a health and fitness teacher at Oakmont Regional High School.
Ms. Allen is on the sidelines for all athletic events at Oakmont, mostly in the afternoons and evenings. Her day begins at school teaching two health courses.
"Gianna has been a godsend for us," said Eric Dawley, Oakmont's director of athletics. "Prior to her arrival here, we never had a full-time trainer. She's been great and so relatable to the kids. She's here every day and takes care of our athletes so well. We hit the lottery when she was hired."
After a recent Oakmont lacrosse match, Ms. Allen agreed to a sporting conversation.
Q:What is the value of a high school having an athletic trainer?
A: "I think there's great value. You get injury prevention, recognition, treatment and rehabilitation for student athletes. You also get piece of mind, knowing you have someone with sports medicine expertise on your staff."
Q:Many people think athletic trainers are on hand during games just in case a player gets hurt. That's a misconception, right?
A: "Yes. On the preventative side, we are trained to know what to look for that might increase someone's risk of a certain type of injury, and we have the knowledge to create preventative strengthening programs. For example, an ACL prevention program would involve some extra, preseason strength and agility work to lower the risk over the course of the season."
Q:What is your educational background?
A: "I graduated from Quabbin Regional in 2010 and then went to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, for my bachelor's degree in athletic training."
Q:What is your own athletic background?
A: "I've always been involved in sports, ever since I was a little. I was very active on several sports teams, but my main sport was soccer. I would play that year-round. I played some soccer in college, too, and now I continue to play in recreational leagues when I can."
Q:Have you ever had to deal with athletic injuries yourself?
A: "I've had ankle sprains and several muscle strains, but nothing significant. No broken bones."
Q:What is one of your favorite parts of your job?
A: "Seeing athletes come back to playing after being out of the lineup and injured. It's great watching them enjoy again what they were doing before being injured."
Q:Do you have a favorite professional sports team?
A: "My favorite sport to watch is football, so, naturally, the New England Patriots are my favorite."
Q:What are your feelings about Oakmont?
A: "It's a great place to work. I was the first athletic trainer here, so there were some hurdles in establishing policies and procedures and in educating everyone just what an athletic trainer does. Oakmont fosters the important value of sports, teamwork, social skills and healthy habits to stay active."
Q:Is there a type of sports injury that occurs more than others?
A: "Injuries can be all over the place, you don't really know. You don't go to a sporting event and know automatically there's going to be a sprained ankle that day. So you have to be prepared and educated in the newest, evidence-based techniques in treating injuries."
Q:With that in mind, your education must always be updated, correct?
A: "Absolutely. We have to be recertified every two years and, over the course of those two years, attend continuing education programs at conferences and also online. I am also working toward my master's degree at Endicott College."
Q:One more question. Do you have a favorite TV medical show?
A: "Yes, 'Grey's Anatomy.'"
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