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NK Athletic Medicine helps heal between seasons
POULSBO — It was the final set of the first match of the 2A State Volleyball Tournament Nov. 11 and the North Kitsap Vikings were looking to finish strong.
The Vikings were tied 4-4 with East Valley. The loser would lose a shot at placing in the top three.
With a few points remaining in the 15-point match, Meaghan Houser sprang into the air, attempting to block the ball being spiked from East Valley territory. Without a chance to react, Houser came down hard on a teammate’s foot. Immediate pain shot up her right leg as she fell to the ground.
Though Houser would play a few minutes in the Vikings’ second State match, she was pulled quickly and did not return to the court. The North Kitsap senior had torn her ACL and meniscus.
Houser is now working to recover from the injury as fast as possible. Club volleyball begins in January and needed to be fit for the team.
She has become one of many student athletes from North Kitsap High School who frequent the school’s Athletic Medicine Department for rehabilitation. Houser now splits her time between the Athletic Medicine Department and Body Link in Poulsbo.
During the fall sports season, the department can see up to 60 or 70 students per day, Athletic Medicine Instructor Chris Franklin said.
Franklin and Erin Sutcliffe are the two certified staff members in the department who can help rehabilitate injuries.
If a student is injured, he or she is required to visit the Athletic Medicine Department before or after practice. Athletic student trainers may help during treatments as they study and provide first aid during practices and games. And with equipment in the department’s office itself, which includes everything from ice packs and bandages to rehab machines, the students seem to be covered.
“The bottom line is, we’re here for the safety of the kids,” Franklin said.
Though not all students may be as dedicated to their rehabilitation as others, there are those that strongly commit to recovering from injuries. Of those students he has seen pass through the department, Franklin said Indigo Williams is one of the most dedicated to bringing herself back to her full, physical strength.
Williams was injured after the 2011 track season. She had surgery on Aug. 2 and started physical therapy later. She divided her time between the Athletic Medicine Department and Wade Zinn Physical Therapy in the hopes she would be eligible to play basketball in the winter. As it turned out, she was able to play in the team’s first league game against Bremerton Dec. 6, scoring four points and rebounding four times.
Why dedicate so much time to physical therapy for high school sports?
“I want to play,” Williams said. “It’s senior year … I just really want to play sports.”
Williams, who is looking to run track in college — she’s considering the University of Idaho and Eastern Washington University — said while recovering from her injuries, she learned about human anatomy and what other athletes were dealing with as well.
The North Kitsap Athletic Medicine Department may see a high volume of students, but the two certified staff members are not alone in the venture to heal students. The school’s team physician, Dr. Bradley Watters, provides advice while overseeing the program. Watters has worked as the team physician for about 20 years. Franklin said Watters can often ensure students are evaluated and treated more quickly after an injury.