Andy Renner works with students at Alton High School who have experienced sports-based injuries. He has been the athletic trainer at Alton High for nine years.
EDWARDSVILLE – Andy Renner of Alton High said there is a misconception about what he and his counterparts do.
“We’re athletic trainers rather than personal trainers. And there’s a difference,” said Renner, the Redbirds’ athletic trainer since 2005.
Renner was one of several individuals participating in the Southwestern Conference athletic trainers’ seminar Wednesday at Edwardsville High School. March is National Athletic Training month and the slogan appropriately is: “We’ve got your back.”
All eight SWC schools and the six Mississippi Valley Conference schools feature full-time athletic trainers. Other schools, such as Southwestern High, are seeking to join the competition.
“We’re definitely interested in getting one,” Piasa Birds’ director of athletics Steve Wooley said. “We have funding available and that’s why we came here today – for the networking. We’ve had an athletic trainer in the past and getting another one would be a huge benefit for us.”
Renner said that’s the idea – showing how athletic trainers assist schools and their athletes. The Staunton High and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville graduate is the Redbirds’ first full-time athletic trainer.
“We know that budgets are tight, but our goal is to get more athletic trainers at more schools. However, only 50 percent of schools have the services of a certified athletic trainer,” Renner said.
“We are health care professionals first. Our top priorities are the health and safety of athletes, along with the care and prevention of athletic injuries.”
He added, “We’re involved with anything that has to do with the health of athletes, whether it’s something little to something life-threatening.”
Drew Dintelmann, the head athletic trainer at Edwardsville High, spoke about the healing process for various injuries. He said EHS supplied 1,723 treatments within a one-year period and how having an athletic trainer on staff can reduce overall expenses.
“We know funding is an issue,” Dintelmann said of hiring athletic trainers, “but it’s a way for schools and parents to save money.”
Sprains and strains, back problems, torn ACLs, open wounds, intestinal infections and head problems – think concussions – are some of the main trouble spots. Cold and hot packs, therapeutic activities, massages and ultrasound are among ways to treat injuries.
Yet it’s more than just applying ice and heat, taping ankles or doing stretching exercises, Renner said. Personal trainers can be involved in those areas.
“The benefits are not just for athletics, but they extend into the classroom,” he said. “For example, concussions are brain injuries and when students at AHS have them, we try to get them the help they need.
“It’s not always physical. Sometimes it’s mental, where a student is having trouble in the classroom because of a concussion.”
Renner said, “There’s continuing education in this field and we are always looking at new techniques. For example, more is coming down the pike on the IHSA’s heat index policy. We’ll keep doing research on it.”
And doing the best they can for ailing athletes. “When things go wrong, athletic trainers are the best option for athletes,” Renner said.