East Carolina University, Pitt Co. Schools partner to protect student-athletes

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – East Carolina University and Pitt County Schools are working together to help keep high school athletes safe.

Since 2009, Pitt County athletic director Ron Butler says the partnership is helping put athletic trainers inside high schools.

“The goal is to provide the best possible sports medicine and care for our athletes,” said Butler. “We can and our goal is to improve it every year.”

The joint event isn’t just helping Pitt County athletics but college students too.

Dominique McCray says the opportunity to work with athletes is exactly what she needs before entering the work force.

“I can actually take what I learned in the classroom and do it on an athlete that same day,” said McCray.

McCray said the experience is exactly what she needs before entering the workforce.

“It’s such an honor to say that I’ve made it through all the rigorous classes that I had to take,” said McCray.

This partnership was put in place following the death of JaQuan Waller, a student-athlete at J.H. Rose who passed away in 2008.

Waller’s death led to the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awarness Act, which reads in part:

The Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act was drafted and implemented to protect the safety of student-athletes in North Carolina and was signed into law on June 16, 2011 by Governor Beverly Purdue. There are three major areas of focus in the law and these include: education, emergency action and post concussion protocol implementation, and clearance/return to play or practice following concussion

Dr. Katie Flanagan is the director of the athletic training program at ECU and said students benefit from the program.

“They take classes in the morning, and in the afternoon,” said Flanagan. “They are sent to local high schools, medical clinics and from there they practice the skills that they were taught in the morning.”

Dr. Flanagan said students are able to go on to bigger and better things once they complete the program.

“Our graduates are in the NFL, our graduates are in the major league baseball, they’re in high schools, and clinics, and colleges,” said Flanagan.

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