The NFL is helping student athletes in Oklahoma City to reduce injury and get proper care if they are hurt. The new program just started this football season at four OKC high schools.
An athletic trainer now patrols the sidelines during football practices at Capitol Hill, Grant, Douglass and Northwest Classen High Schools.
Their salaries are paid for by a grant from the NFL and a partnership between OKC public schools and Mercy Hospitals.
“I've dealt with injuries that have been two-to-three years old which is kind of crazy when you think about it. They weren't taken care of because nobody was here to take care of them,” says Mercy Hospitals Athletic Trainer Collin Gentry.
Starting this season, Gentry has been at every Northwest Classen High School football practice along with working every game at nearby Taft Stadium.
“It’s easier. Instead of you get injured in practice and have to wait until your mom can take you to the doctor, because that can take weeks,” Says NW Classen HS Senior Shabarekh Smith.
“The trainer is right there, he can let you know what the problem is, how long you'll be sitting out when you can come back,” adds Smith.
While there are athletic trainers for all football games in Oklahoma City, they haven't been at football practices.
The National Athletic Trainers Association ranks Oklahoma 49-out-of-50 states in access to athletic trainers for its high school athletes.