Ebonie Sherwood knows well how critical athletic trainers are to the student athlete.
She was a tri-athlete at Stebbins High School and practicing with the track team in March when she began to feel poorly. Sherwood made it to the trainer’s offices, where the training staff there saved her life when she went into cardiac arrest.
The effect of a nationwide shortage of athletic trainers has reached Dayton Public Schools, where the largest district in the Miami Valley right now is operating without trainers at practices or games. The district’s contract with Kettering Health ended in June.
Sherwood likely would not have survived had there been no athletic trainer at Stebbins that day. Stebbins is in the Mad River Local School District and not part of DPS.
She underwent a heart transplant in March and told News Center 7 Report Kayla McDermott she began speech and physical therapy a couple of weeks ago. She graduated from Stebbins a day after University of Cincinnati Medical Center released her.
“We had Alex and Emily there,” Sherwood recalled Thursday. “I went to my athletic trainer’s offices. And they actually did CPR and had an A-E-D on hand.”
Sherwood is a strong advocate for having trainers at every sporting event.
“It’s really important to get athletic trainers, aside from injuries, like rolling an ankle, or a concussion, they need CPR,” she said, “to have somebody right there that knows [the] athletes and knows what they’re doing.”
The national shortage, which according to media reports is being blamed on a range of issues from a lack of applicants to a lack of money, has Sherwood nervous for Dayton Public Schools student athletes.
“I would feel very cautious. knowing if I get hurt or do too much of something, if there’s nobody there to actually help me,” she said.
The lack of trainers at practices and/or games would negatively affect an athlete’s performance, Sherwood said.
Student athletes wouldn’t necessarily be afraid to compete at all, she said, “but more scared to compete at the fullest level, knowing ‘I can’t do anything if I get hurt or something.’ "
Sherwood said she is continuing to pursue a career as an athletic trainer, a journey that was triggered before her cardiac arrest. That experience, the reason she’s still here, has only intensified her desire to earn the credentials.
“I’m still going to be an athletic trainer,” she said. “That’s what I’m going to school for seeing how much they were able to help me and hoping I can help other students.”