Athletes’ ally: Trainer Jen Krug honored for her work at SHS

May 2016 Posted in People, School, Sports
Silverton High School athletic trainer Jen Krug works with freshman athlete Cameron Reisch after a recent freshman baseball game. Photo by Steve Ritchie

Silverton High School athletic trainer Jen Krug works with freshman athlete Cameron Reisch after a recent freshman baseball game. Photo by Steve Ritchie

By Steve Ritchie

Jen Krug was closing in on her AA degree in computer science at Clark College when she decided to take an athletic training class. Though she had only one quarter of coursework left, Krug knew right away she wasn’t going into computer science after all.

“I threw that all out the window and knew I was going to be an athletic trainer,” Krug recalled. “The first day (of the athletic training class) I was like ‘this is it.’”

With a couple decades hindsight, it still looks like a good decision. The Stevenson, Wash., native, who is in her seventh year as athletic trainer at Silverton High School, received the Outstanding Service Award from the Northwest Athletic Trainers Association (NWATA) at its annual meeting in Boise, Idaho on April 2.

Athletic trainers have been recognized as allied health care professionals by the American Medical Association for 25 years, and are licensed by the state to practice as athletic trainers. Like other medical professionals, athletic trainers keep their certification current through  continuing education each year. 

According to the release from the NWATA, Krug received the award “for being an outstanding professional and exemplifying what it means to care for athletes and patients in the toughest of situations.”

One of the coaches she works with at Silverton High School is Erik Cross, head cross country and track and field coach. Cross said Krug is the consummate professional – knowledgeable, caring and great with young athletes.

“One of a coach’s greatest struggles is dealing with and attempting to prevent injury with our athletes,” Cross said. “Considering the number of athletes on the teams I coach, having an athletic trainer as talented and caring as Jen lifts a huge burden. Jen not only responds to an athlete’s injury and works with him or her and communicates with the parents, but she has spent a tremendous amount of extra time helping me with injury prevention. We even have a cool down routine named after her; one that helps to develop mobility and promotes recovery after a challenging workout.”

Krug attended Corban University as well as Clark College, and earned her master’s degree at Portland State. She worked as an athletic trainer at both PSU and Corban prior to coming to Silverton. She also serves as an athletic trainer for USA Fencing, working with such athletes as two-time Olympic gold medalist and world champion Mariel Zagunis from Beaverton, and traveling with the team to national and international competitions.

At the high school she starts her work day in the afternoon and stays through the last practice or game each day. She said depending on the sport season, she can see as many as 75 to 100 athletes each day.

Krug feels it is important people understand the crucial role athletic trainers play with the sports team they serve, regardless of whether it is a high school, college or elite level of competition.

“Our role as athletic trainers is education, prevention and care of injuries,” Krug said. “It’s not just taping and handing out water. We do a lot of emergency care as well as preventive care. We’ve had incidents where we’ve had to provide CPR here at the school. It’s vital, (but) there’s a lot of people who don’t understand what we do. We’re different than fitness trainers, or dog trainers or horse trainers.”

Concussions are an area of growing public awareness. Krug says preventing and treating concussions is a good example of her role. She makes sure athletes who suffer a concussion go through the proper protocol and do not continue to compete, or even practice, until they are cleared by a doctor.

“Concussions are definitely in the mainstream right now. With young people, their brains are still developing and you have to be very careful. Some people think (a concussion) is just a minor injury, or they just have a headache. But every concussion is different. It can take days or weeks or months to recover.

“You only have one brain and you have to have that for the rest of your life. If you damage it, you might have to suffer the consequences for the rest of your life if you don’t manage it properly. Concussions are a big thing that need to be monitored and taken care of properly.

Silverton High Athletic Director Greg Kaatz said the district hired its first athletic trainer about 10 years ago, and he believes it was a wise move, as enrollment and participation in sports has continued to grow. When student-athletes suffer an injury, Kaatz said parents naturally tend to look for answers and Krug is a valuable resource for them.

“She is someone who is very knowledgeable and came to us with a wealth of experience … She is almost over-qualified (for this job) and we are very fortunate to have her. She definitely knows about injuries and helping kids get back (healthy).”

As Krug discusses her work with a visitor, several freshmen baseball players come in seeking assistance. One is particularly concerned about pain and tightness in his forearm. Krug asks him a series of questions, while checking the arm. She is able to relieve some of his pain before giving him instructions for later. She also tells him to come and see her before practice the next day.

Krug said every day brings different things, but the one constant is the kids.

“They make my day, maybe drive me a little crazy sometimes, but ultimately that’s who I’m here for – to help them be healthy and play better, be safer and recover from their injuries faster … and be more successful.”

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