Behind the Scenes Heroes For Local Sports!

Left to right, Giana Roskam-Football Manager, Morgan Pyles-Football Manager, Myself, Emma Larsen- Football Manager, Avery Larsen- Football Manager and Sports Medicine Intern.

No Off-season Provided for Round-the-Clock WP Athletic Training Team

Trevor Phipps

The winter sports season for high school sports has officially kicked off.

Most of the teams start playing non-league matches until after winter break, when the league matches commence.

During the lull between the fall and winter sports seasons, most athletes either take some time off to recover from the fall season, or they spend their time practicing for winter sports. And then there are some athletes that finish one season of sports just to jump into a different sport during the next season.

Every year, the high school sports athletes get their time in the spotlight, but there are others that support these athletic teams that tend to receive little to no attention for what they do. In order for a school to offer sports to its students, there are many behind-the-scenes activities that have to take place. Many of these folks are the unsung heroes of local sports.

Set aside from the work done by the team’s coaching and support staff, there are others like the athletic trainer that play a vital role in all of the different sports offered.

Melissa Yeryar has been the athletic trainer at the Woodland Park High School for the last four years, and during football games she can often be seen on the sidelines running around and tending to the medical needs of the athletes.

Yeryar stays active by helping athletes work on previous injuries, and she is usually the first one to sprint out onto the field or court when a player gets injured. During football games, she could be seen tending to hurt athletes whether they were on the Panther team or an opposing squad.

The athletic trainer said that she chose her career because she liked being involved in the sports world, and she wanted work that would combine athletics with the healthcare field. She studied at Metro State University in Denver and then went to work at the Woodland Park High School four years ago after she graduated.

“In my job I am responsible for injury rehabilitation and acute injury care,” Yeryar said. “So that is anything from cuts and scrapes and bruises to sprained ankles, broken bones, knee injuries, or anything like that the athletes have. I can take care of all of that. So, it’s very similar to physical therapy except the kids don’t have to pay anything. I don’t bill their insurance. And I have a better relationship I would say with my athletes because they can come in anytime. I don’t have to schedule appointments with them.”

She also said that she does all of the concussion testing if it is needed. And she also helps with injury prevention measures like yoga for football players.

The athletic trainer said she can also deal with emergencies should anything serious like spinal cord injuries occur. Yeryar also is present for every practice and home event, and she also travels with the football team and the cheerleading team.

Aside from her job as a trainer, she also works with student interns. “We have a teacher here, Catherine Becker, who teaches our sports medicine level courses,” the trainer said. “And in those courses they get CPR certified and they go over the basics of different types of injuries, injury management and different roles that healthcare providers have with athletes.”

During the classes, Becker brings in local professionals to help teach the kids. They also go on field trips to see what it’s like working in the sports medicine field.

Some of the students can also get the chance to become an intern with Yeryar and help with sports events like basketball games. The students in the program can get the chance to earn a letter for their participation.

The school district for the first time offered a work-based learning course for sports medicine. Her intern, Avery Larsen, works directly with Yeryar on a day to day basis.

“I have one student and she follows me every day and she is in my classroom every day,” Yeryar said. “And she is responsible for athlete intake and figuring out what the kids need. She is at practices and she is the second hand. When the kids need something they go to her. She does all of their treatments here in the office. So, she is pretty hands on and she is actually planning to continue on and get her Bachelor’s degree in athletic training.”