For more than a decade, Pahrump chiropractor Mike Taylor has given his time to be Pahrump Valley High School’s unofficial athletic trainer.
“My kids went to high school when I moved here in 2006, and they didn’t have a trainer,” Taylor recalled. “I just filled in and covered football, and football is where I spent most of my time. It just grew over the years. I became the team doctor by default.”
But the demands of his “real” job made the situation more untenable every year, and this summer, Jessie Peterson, a May graduate of Southern Utah University, became the first full-time athletic trainer the school has had in years.
“I knew I wanted to be in athletics, but I really didn’t know how because I also wanted to do medical stuff,” Peterson said. “I had a friend who went into it and she was telling me about it, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll give that a try,’ and I love it.”
Getting to this point wasn’t easy. Taylor gives a lot of the credit to Pahrump Valley Athletic Administrator Jason Odegard and Nye County School District Superintendent Dale Norton, while Odegard gives much of the credit to Taylor and Norton.
“Doc Taylor has been instrumental in not only helping fill a need where he can but also trying to push that we get a certified athletic trainer in,” said Odegard, who said the talk heated up after Clark County started putting trainers in all of its high schools. “He did some visiting with Mr. Norton about it as well, and we’re very appreciative that Mr. Norton saw that this was a really important piece for our kids to have somebody on staff to watch out for their safety and their health.”
Taylor acknowledged his role in the process but also praised Odegard.
“There was a lot of work between him and I, trying to get this done, trying to find the money,” Taylor said. “There are people who think administrators don’t do good things, but this took a lot of work.”
It was Taylor who placed the notice announcing the job opening, and Peterson said she sent him her resume within 10 minutes of seeing it. “He called me that day,” she said. “I’m grateful to him because it’s a good job.
“The hardest part is they’ve never had a trainer. So I’m trying to start a program while I’m trying to start in the field. It’s a challenge, but I like challenges.”
Peterson began working with Taylor at Pahrump Physical Medicine in mid-June and began her job at the school Aug. 1.
“She has a lot of energy,” Taylor said. “She’s very good, very capable. I think she’ll be good for the school. When a young person is successful, it shows kids options as to what they can do.”
In Peterson’s case, that especially applies to female athletes.
“There are way fewer female athletic trainers, which is one of the reasons I want to do the best job that I can and set a good example,” she said. “It’s still a male-dominated field, and some people don’t totally trust our judgment, which is a little bit frustrating because we went through all the same education.
“That’s something I want to do, push more girls into fields like this because they can be just as good at it.”
“She provides a service, but also, girls can look at her and see they can be an athletic trainer,” Taylor said. “They can go to med school, they can go to PT school. They can see options.”
At Tuesday’s practice, Peterson could be heard calling out to players with minor injuries about their level of exertion, and several players came over to check with her before doing specific drills or just to ask a quick question. After practice come routine treatments, but Peterson feels well-prepared for the more serious part of her job.
“I’m there at the immediate point of their injury,” she explained. “From then on, I’m basically their rehab person. I do all of their return-to-play, all of their rehabilitation, all their treatments in the training room. It’s every aspect of the injury process.”
Doing that successfully can provide a great deal of job satisfaction.
“It’s fulfilling to help people who have been injured and help them get back to play when they thought their season was over,” Peterson said. “That feels good.”
That’s not to suggest the more mundane tasks can’t also bring satisfaction.
“The more the athletes trust me to become their trainer, the more they will come see me in general if there is something bothering them,” she said.
Peterson said she will be going to all football games, home and away, except for the opener against Lowry in Winnemucca. For other sports, she will be at home games unless they conflict with a road football game. Football, being what she called a “high-contact, high-injury sport,” takes priority.
Taylor and Odegard are each delighted with getting a full-time trainer and sound equally delighted with the person filling the job.
“I just got involved with it because there was a need and I wanted to be there,” Taylor said. “I had a passion for it, but I’m not going to lie: I’m happy to pass it on to Jessie.”
“She’s doing an awesome job,” Odegard said. “We’re happy to have her. She’s hit the ground running, as they say, just stepped right up and done everything we could have possibly asked for and even more than we thought we were going to get.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@pvtimes