Park program gets trainers ready for football

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 13, 2012 - 11:26 AM

Football season is here and the job of the athletic trainer is as important as any that take the field.
When the season begins, so does the school year at Park University’s Department of Athletic Training where students will spend their fall learning on the job with football teams across the Metro.
Fall sports and Football in particular gives students in Park’s program a chance to add real life experience to the outstanding classroom instruction they receive in the program.
Practice for football usually starts in the early parts of August when the weather is hot. In an era where head injuries grab most of the headlines, heat related illnesses are still at the forefront. This time of year students in Park’s program are focused on all aspects of an outside contact sport like football. That includes making sure athletes are prepared for the heat.
The program’s director Dr. Tom Bertoncino said preparing for the heat is something they stress to students.
“We’ve kind of caught a break right now with the heat but last week it was still 100 degrees,” Dr. Bertoncino said. “It is very, very important to have someone on the sidelines who knows how to at least prevent those types of injuries.
“Those are the silent killers out there. It’s not the direct impact and it slowly comes up on an athlete because it is usually not day one. It’s day two or three that they’ve been out there sweating and they haven’t replenished themselves at night. So that third or fourth day that the heat illness starts to take its toll. Having someone out there to prevent it and then recognizing it once it does start to happen is key.”
Football teams across the area have been cognizant of the heat all summer and are continuing that effort during the season. At Raytown last week players were weighed before practice started and then after to see how much weight they had lost. That way, players would have an idea of how much fluid they needed to replace during the evening.
“That is a good practice,” Dr. Bertoncino said. “Not everybody does that but it’s that is a good way to measure.”
Heat related illness is a major part of the curriculum in Park’s Athletic Training Program. The issue is stressed in many classes that a student will take as part of their journey to a degree.
“We cover it in not just one class but probably three or four different classes,” Dr. Bertoncino said. “It is reinforced quite often. We go over with our students the weighing and the percentages of body weight to look for so it is stressed in many different places.”
The program consists of several different rotations that help the trainers get looks at different sports, athletes, illnesses and injuries.
“Our students will go through an upper and lower extremity experience,” Dr. Bertoncino said. “They will go through an equipment intensive experience aka football. They will go through gender specific type of injuries and a general medical rotation so they will see more than just orthopedic and that is an eye opener for them.
“That is the basis of what we have to do but the rotation is up to us. We want them to do the football in their junior year so they’ve had a little bit of everything so then they can get that reinforcement that second time.”
The program places its students in high schools along with small colleges and universities in the Metro.
Students interested in Park University’s athletic training program can contact Bertoncino at, or contact Park’s admissions office at or at 816-746-2520. For more information visit