ASCENSION PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) — March is National Athletic Training Month and in Ascension Parish, students and staff want more people to understand the value athletic trainers bring to the field and locker room.

At sporting events, many people pay attention to the players and coaches. However, some of the most important people on the sidelines are the athletic trainers.

“We’re the team behind the team,” said Scott Arceneaux, Sports Medicine Director at St. Amant High School.

All four high schools in the Ascension Parish district are named “Safe Sports Schools.” St. Amant High School is the first school in the nation to achieve this status four times.

“We get to take care of people’s most prize possessions – their children. And you know, and like I said I feel like we’re the best insurance policy that a school district can invest in overall to take care of those student-athletes,” said Arceneaux.

Arceneaux said athletic training is not a luxury, It’s a necessity. At St. Amant, they focus on three things: heat, head, and heart.

“We have what we call our head and heart days. Where you know – we do heart screenings. As well as try to make sure we have a great concussion plan. We’re very fortunate in this district that Our Lady of the Lake underwrites our concussion manager plan,” said Arceneaux.

According to Arceneaux, 90 percent of injuries are related to extreme temperatures, concussions, or cardiac issues. He said nearly half of those injuries, about 44 percent, are cardiac deaths.

Former soccer player and LSU master student, Meagan Gordon, said due to the severity of the injuries, the recovery process can be a long road for some.

“Growing up as an athlete and now being able to help others I have a better understanding of what they’re going through. So being able to help them with their injury, but also their mental health,” said Gordon.

Arceneaux is a medical professional of nearly 30 years. He started his career at Ascension Parish Public Schools back in 1995.

He said becoming an athletic trainer is a calling. Not only does their program educate students, but it inspires those who have the desire to serve others. 

“It’s honestly more reassuring to know that there are people around you who can help you,” said Brooke Barker, Junior and Student Aid at St. Amant.

“I think that it’s just a very unique, very niche area we can be in. And I think the connection with the athletes is something you don’t get anywhere else,” said Randon Mccallum, a student at Louisiana South Eastern University.

In addition to his duties in the district, Arceneaux is the President of the National Association of Athletic Trainers (LATA). His passion comes from having a family of athletic trainers. Arceneaux said six relatives are in the sports medicine field. In fact, the book “Friday Night Lights” inspired him to choose this career path.

Louisiana has a total of 27 high schools classified as “Safe Sports Schools.”

Visit the Southeast Athletic Trainers’ Association (SEATA) website to learn more.