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September 14, 2012

Partnership helping Vigo prep athletes

Athletic training services come at no cost to Vigo Schools

TERRE HAUTE — When a West Vigo High School athlete was injured at a recent football game, his parents worried but Principal Tom Balitewicz knew the player would be in good hands.

West Vigo’s head athletic trainer, Greg MacDonald, waited on the sidelines ready to respond. MacDonald, a Union Hospital employee, has been an athletic trainer at West Vigo for several years  “and he is absolutely fantastic,” Balitewicz said.

Balitewicz spoke during a news conference Thursday in which Union officially announced its Center for Sports Medicine has an exclusive, four-year agreement with the Vigo County School Corp. to provide sports medicine services. The School Board approved the agreement in June.

The Center for Sports Medicine is a collaborative effort between Union Hospital and physicians at UAP’s Bone and Joint Center.

Union Sports Medicine now serves Terre Haute North Vigo, South Vigo and West Vigo high schools. It already had been providing those services at North and West Vigo, but the agreement includes South.

Each high school benefits from a full-time certified athletic trainer who is a Union Hospital employee; two graduate assistant trainers from Indiana State University; and a sideline physician for each home varsity football game.

Also, student-athletes will be able to get pre-participation physicals for $10, with all funds generated donated back to the schools.

In addition, each high school and middle school will receive a psychrometer, a device that measures humidity.

There is no cost to the school district for those services. “That’s great for us,” said Stacy Mason, VCSC director of secondary education.

In exchange, Union Hospital Center for Sports Medicine will receive the following:

•  It is the exclusive sports medicine provider in terms of on-site coverage of athletic events.

• Union Sports Medicine will have signage at the respective schools recognizing it as the official sports medicine provider.

• It will have full-page ads in all high school sports programs.

North and West Vigo already benefit from the Union Sports Medicine athletic trainers and medical staff, Mason said. “We know the kind of quality we’re getting in this partnership.”

An athletic trainer or one of the graduate assistants is at every high school sporting event, home and away, said Charles Welker, Union’s director for medical rehabilitation and therapeutics.

“The big winners today are the student-athletes. It’s their health, it’s their safety,” Welker said. It’s also good news for parents and coaches, he said.

“It’s the peace of mind. Let’s face it. We know injuries will happen,” Welker said. “When it does happen, it needs immediate medical care.”

MacDonald knows firsthand how important it is to be at the sporting events for the athletes, especially with the potential for  concussions and heat illness. “It’s important to have someone out there, a professional, to be able to do a quick evaluation of an athlete to know if something is serious, or if they can get treated on site.”

Athletic trainers can take measures to ensure less serious injuries don’t get worse, he said.

At South Vigo High School Friday, Nick Holtgrieve, a graduate assistant trainer, worked with soccer player Courtney Hubbard, who was doing hamstring rehabilitation.

Hubbard recently sustained a hamstring strain. “We’re trying to make her stronger and she’s getting better by the day,” Holtgrieve said.

In the same room, head athletic trainer Scott Kidder taped up a football player who sustained a knee injury; the athlete had strained his posterior cruciate ligament.

Kidder, a Union Hospital employee, also worked with South senior and football player Jonathan Weakley, who said Kidder “is great at what he does.”

Kidder enjoys what he does for a living. “The kids are fun and I get paid to watch sports,” he said.

Union Sports Medicine also serves Marshall High School, Riverton Parke High School, Rockville High School, South Vermillion High School, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 8120-231-4235 or

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