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NATA recognizes high schools that stress safe athletic practices

McLean (VA) High School's crew team participates in a fundraiser. McLean was among 381 schools NATA designated as "Safe Sports Schools." Photo via Flickr user Maggie under Creative Commons license.

McLean (VA) High School’s crew team participates in a fundraiser. McLean was among 381 schools NATA designated as “Safe Sports Schools.” Photo via Flickr user Maggie under Creative Commons license.

For high school coaches and physical education teachers, finding an environment that values safety, good fitness practices and injury prevention is close to the ideal work situation.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association has a program for sports-savvy high schools that can give aspiring secondary school educators a place to start when they’re looking for career options — or, at least, ideas about questions to ask when they’re seeking a job.

For two years, NATA has invited secondary schools to apply to be a “Safe Sports School,” a designation recognizing schools that meet a variety of specialized criteria. They create a positive athletic health care administrative system. They provide and coordinate pre-participation physical exams. They provide appropriately equipped areas to evaluate and treat injured athletes.

Since the program began in January 2013, 381 high schools around the country have received the designation. NATA’s program includes a “first-team” designation, for schools that go above-and-beyond the minimum certification requirements, and a “second-team” designation for those that meet the basic requirements.

“The award champions safety and recognizes secondary schools that provide safe environments for student athletes,” said Britni Adams, government affairs assistant for NATA. “The award reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention and treatment.”

NATA has awarded the three-year designation to high schools in the District of Columbia and all but five states around the country — Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming. Some states have taken the program very seriously. These are the 10 states with the most “Safe Sports Schools”:

STATE SCHOOLS
Virginia 71
Maryland 47
Texas 22
Alabama 18
North Carolina 14
California 13
Pennsylvania 12
New Hampshire 11
South Carolina 11
Ohio 10

See the complete list of schools here.

School administrators who want the designation can take a handy nine-point quiz that can suggest whether their high school is a good candidate for the application. If so, they can move on to the 19-page application, which provides a host of data points to support these criteria:

  • Create a positive athletic health care administrative system.
  • Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations.
  • Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities.
  • Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment.
  • Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes.
  • Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions.
  • Provide or facilitate injury intervention.
  • Create and rehearse a venue-specific Emergency Action Plan.
  • Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education.
  • Be sure athletes and parents are educated of the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities.

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