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Genesis Rehab, UWA partner for DHS athletics

As the home athletic schedule came to a close at Demopolis High School, a noticeable group of people in red shirts started showing up at DHS games. This was no coincidence as Genesis Rehabilitation and the University of West Alabama agreed to a partnership that will provide training services for student-athletes on campus during games.

The partnership came from an idea started by DHS Principal Blaine Hathcock on the need to provide student-athletes with proper medical care.

“When I got here in January, we really had a need for something that has concerned me since I’ve been here. We have a significant number of athletes. We’re talking about probably 300 kids just at the high school that participate, in some form or fashion, in athletics here. Obviously, their safety and medical needs should be and are a priority,” said Hathcock. “When we got here in January, we wanted to explore a lot of options to get that in a lot better shape so, if we had an event going on, we would have somebody on campus at all times to monitor those things.”

After considering their options, Hathcock and DHS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Tony Pittman decided to reach out to Genesis Rehab and its physical therapist Skibo Holman.

“(Holman) at Genesis Rehab along with UWA have agreed to partner with us to take care of those medical needs and training needs for our kids. So, I’m extremely happy for our kids and our school. It is a game changer for our school and for our athletic programs and, the most important thing, for the safety of our kids,” Hathcock said.

Holman also saw the need to get something done.

“Blaine and Coach Pittman contacted me and we all just realized there was a need for medical supervision at practices and games. We have too many athletes out here, too much potential risk for injury,” said Holman. “I got to thinking about it that night and figured it was something I needed to help them with. So, I got up with R.T. (Floyd) at UWA. There were several ways we could go about it, but we decided the best way to do it was to do it by committee.”

Holman spoke about how most of the athletic trainers already have commitments at other schools for sporting events. However, the six graduate assistant trainers at UWA realized that their schedules had off days that corresponded with each other’s off days. From there, the group laid out a schedule to determine who would cover what days in Demopolis.

“The did a lot of the leg work. I’m just providing financial support to have them on the field and have them at practice,” said Holman.

The need for athletic trainers or medical personnel has been present, but a recent incident validated the decision to enter the partnership.

“We’ve had events that happen that magnifies why you need somebody. We had a girl hit in the mouth with a softball at a softball game that was pretty traumatic. We had somebody on campus from UWA that was standing there. Tuesday, we had about 300 kids at a track meet from about 12 different schools, so we had multiple trainers here,” Hathcock said. “Those are things that make us feel more secure that we’re doing the right things for the kids. We’re extremely thankful to Genesis for assisting us both financially and logistically allowing us to manage all those things.”

The arrangement comes at an unbeatable best price for DHS and the school system.

“No cost for the high school,” said Hathcock. “I can’t be more thankful than I am to them for allowing us to provide this service to our kids. He stepped up to the plate for us.”

Genesis Rehabilitation is paying the cost for the trainer per hour with a price agreed upon between the clinic and UWA.

Going forward, the partnership has agreed on a trainer to work in Demopolis on a more daily basis.

“That really is a better way of doing it,” Holman said. “You get one person involved and making decisions, coaches get to know that person and the continuity of care is better.”

Holman said the trainer will be able to focus on preventative care and will also work with the students on nutrition and assessing students before injuries occur.

“That’s going to be the benefit of having one person coming over here every day,” said Holman. “They get to know the athletes; the athletes get to know them. It really becomes a partnership and I’m excited about that. It’s going to be something Demopolis has never had.”

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, May 3, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)