By Becca Spilka, Eddie Bates and Josh Imholte

Imagine a Dutch Fork home game. You’re sitting with your best friends, cheering on Matt Colburn as he runs a 60 yard punt return for a touchdown that ends with a pile of goliaths toppled over him in the endzone. The whistle blows and everyone gets up.  But Colburn does not.

We don’t know it yet, but he pulled his hamstring. He’s helped up and off the field by Dutch Fork’s real heroes: the student athletic trainers.

“The main goal of this program is to work with the teams, to learn about all of things we do in sports medicine,” Coach Mack Harvey. “It is a natural fit to just have students come and help us with our program.”

Every practice, every game, they’re there. Rain or shine. And when they’re not on the field, they’re in the training room, taping up knees or shoulders or running to get an ice bath ready. Without Coach Mack Harvey and his dream team of student athletic trainers, Dutch Fork’s athletes wouldn’t be as strong and healthy as they are.

“[As a trainer] the first thing that is a really good thing to know is how is to tape athletes because that’s what we’re doing a lot of,” senior Kelsey Busch said. “We don’t really help with rehabilitation but more with injury prevention. We help with the taping and some icing afterward.”

Despite the concentration in sports, Harvey often tries to recruit students with a range of interests because of the experience that this program provides.

“We always try to get a number of students that are interested in sports medicine, and this is a great opportunity for them. Whether it be nursing, physical therapy or becoming a doctor it gives them hands on experience in the fields,” Harvey said.

As important as it is, the job of an athletic trainer, most of the time, goes unappreciated and gets little thought from the rest of the student body.

“[I feel that] athletic trainers are underappreciated. Most people think we’re just the water-boys and water-girls. We actually prevent injuries, and it’s a serious job,” Kelsey said.

Regardless of their lack of recognition, the unwavering dream team does their job with poise and elegance. So much so that many consider pursuing athletic training as a career.

“Training gives me the experience of seeing what Coach Harvey does when students get injured and seeing what I have to do. This is the path I want to pursue in life, so I really appreciate the practice,” junior Teri Becerra said.

Many of Coach Harvey’s former students have already pursued this field and have become very successful.

“Every year I will have a student that left to pursue a medical field in college. We have a number of students that are now nurses,” he said. “We have a couple of students that are now athletic trainers. One specifically is at A&M now, he is the assistant athletic director in charge of football.”

For many students, this program serves as a personal inspiration for themselves as well as the students that they help everyday.

“One of the best parts of this program is watching people’s dreams stay alive,” senior Karis Casterline said. “When people get injured, you know they are down, and when they get better, you get to see the light back in their eyes.”