Trainers Tame the Pain

By Sylvie Lister, Staff Writer

The last bell rings and student-athletes flow into the athletic trainer’s room. Here, sports medicine professionals help injured athletes on the road to recovery. Jacob Ivey, Thanh Ly, and Faith Fleming greet visitors with a smile; they see about 32 students every day and treat them with a combination of stretches, bandage wraps, and ice.

These three staff members play a major role in helping athletes overcome obstacles and achieve success in their sport. However, many don’t know what they do and how they impact the Falls Church community. The athletic trainers help student-athletes to prevent injuries or further damage. They provide emergency care, clinical diagnosis, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

This is Ms. Faith Fleming’s first and only semester at Falls Church thanks to the course she’s taking for George Mason University. Fleming has taken 25 courses and has nine more courses to fulfill her dream of being an athletic trainer. “I love how the students aren’t afraid to come and talk about their injuries,” says Fleming.

Ms. Thanh Ly is a full-time library assistant and Leadership teacher as well as a part-time athletic trainer after school. This is her first year as a teacher and an athletic trainer at Falls Church, and she hopes to continue her growing career. “I’ve always wanted to be in the high school environment, and here I am,” Ly says.

   This is the seventh year Mr. Jacob Ivey has been an athletic trainer at Falls Church, encountering gruesome incidents throughout his career. He’s known what he wanted to do since he was about 12 years old, taking athletic courses and training to get where he is now. “I do what I do because I love it,” he says, “But the worst is when you have to tell [students] they can’t do what they love.”     

One example of an interesting athletic encounter took place at a competitive high school wrestling match 12 years ago. A giant spotlight beamed down on the wrestling mat, two wrestlers set in their stance, eyes locked, ready for the referee’s signal. Throwing wrestling moves left and right, one of the wrestlers gained position, taking his competitor’s right leg tightly to his chest. He picked him up, causing the other guy to fall awkwardly, landing on his arm.

The loud sound echoed throughout the gym heard by everyone. "The bone snapping sounded like celery and then a blood curtailing scream." Mr. Ivey came running from the sidelines to the wrestler on the ground. He grasped the dislocated elbow in his hands not wanting to do more damage. The incident leads to a 911 call with a deformity called an Olecranon fracture in his elbow. Athletic trainers make a big impact on the school atmosphere, providing emergency care.

The athletic trainers stay after school every school day to help students before practice. They stay for all the home games to ensure the player’s safety as well as away games when there aren’t home games. “They clearly love what they do,” says JV soccer player, Jenny Clary (10), “They always try their best to help student-athletes.”