By Sue Moore
“Having Jordan Love, Schoolcraft’s athletic trainer full time in the building has brought a reduction of injuries to our athletes,” said Nate Ferency, head football coach and physical education and nutrition teacher. “We consider her a coach and part of our football staff and its program.”
“She is a professional and kids have a lot of respect for her. She helps with pain management and [diagnosing] injuries. Sometimes the athlete doesn’t know if he is injured or where the pain is coming from. Love can get kids back on their feet as quickly as possible so they can be safe and perform at 100 percent of their capabilities. She is a huge asset for us,” Ferency said.
This is the first year the school has paid to have a full-time athletic trainer. Until 2019, certified graduate assistant athletic trainers were sent to area schools through Western Michigan University and Bronson’s Orthopedic teaching unit. They were graduate students while learning on the job. That changed at the beginning of the academic year because WMU was re-positioning its program. Bronson took over and agreed to pay half of the salary of a fully credentialed athletic trainer while asking the school to contribute the other half. Schoolcraft instituted a $50 charge for each athlete which helped to fund the position.
Love was chosen, since she had spent the previous two years working on her master’s degree from WMU as Schoolcraft’s graduate assistant athletic trainer. She received a small stipend that just about paid for gas to get to the school. She was the obvious choice to take the full-time position, said Superintendent Rusty Stitt. “Everyone loves Ms. Love.”
“I ended up at a great place,” Love exclaimed. “This school just fits me. I see about 220 athletes a year even some students from the band and drama club.” She is now reaching out to students in the Middle School but doesn’t have any facilities there for treatment. “I just wonder what we could accomplish if there was a bigger athletic training room, possibly with a window in it so I could see what’s going on outside.”
Love talks with athletes about the importance of hydration and good nutrition so they can perform at the highest level. “Wrestlers get suggestions from me for meals that their moms can cook but then I hear the lament ‘Oh, you want me to cook a separate meal for my son?’ My answer is each athlete needs the proper nutrients to get through the day. It helps to offset any injuries they might incur.”
She has a budget of about $500 for supplies such as tape for ankles. “I’ve never been denied if there was a demonstrated need. The bigger items have been funded by the Schoolcraft Booster Club. During her first two years of training, Love kept a tracking system of the injuries she treated. From it, she was able to show that in total, her work saved $80,000 per year for families in medical expenses. That’s because they didn’t have to take their kids to a doctor’s office for diagnoses and treatments that she could administer.
Impact testing is administered to each student which sets a baseline to help evaluate concussion. It is given by Love every two years for students in all contact sports. “I have the final say as to whether an athlete can compete, based upon what I observe and what the tests show,” Love said. “I am trained for injury prevention, but concussions are different.”
The program has a strong relationship with Bronson Orthopedics. It’s a direct line and works well to get kids in to see a specialist whenever she thinks it is needed. Recently, she was able to call upon Dr. Stacey Majoras in an emergency when two Watervliet football players received major injuries on almost the same play in a Schoolcraft game. “She was on her way home from a long day of work but came immediately to reaffirm to the parents of the two boys that my diagnosis was accurate and they were treated correctly.” Dr. Majoras oversees the athletic trainers in Vicksburg, Three Rivers and Schoolcraft. Brad Toepper is the Bronson athletic trainer in charge of the overall program and both frequently are on the sidelines during games.
Love’s 40-hour week usually results in far more than that, especially when Schoolcraft’s teams compete at a higher level, such as the football team in the Regional championship and the volleyball team playing for the state championship in its division. The softball team was the runner up state champion in a Lansing playoff last spring. Love is on tap for all home and away games.
“My job is to manage the phone calls and texts along with seeing to each athlete’s needs. The principal is not a fan of me taking kids out of class so I manage treatment on their time as best I can,” Love explained. “The kids will tell me, ‘you have so many rules, Miss Love.’ Yes, I do but I’ve got to keep this place running good.
“As their athletic trainer and health care professional, I appreciate the respect parents and coaches give me,” Love said.