TEMPLE, Texas — Across Central Texas, athletic trainers have been forced into new roles as school districts try to monitor and combat the spread of coronavirus.
Temple ISD's head trainer, Windee Skrabanek, says she was tasked with performing contact tracing and keeping COVID-19 records within the school district's athletic department.
This all comes in addition to her typical duties.
Skrabanek often helps student-athletes rehab from injuries before morning practices, then assists during daily practice times for every sport on campus. She also teaches an athletic training class during the second half of the school day before working at games during the evenings.
During whatever extra free time she has, Skrabanek is also often asked to help with random jobs around campus. Recently, she helped fix a garage door near the baseball field.
"Kind of our big thing has always been that we're the lug nuts of the team," she said. "You don't really think about lug nuts until you need them, and that's kind of how athletic training goes."
Skrabanek has been an athletic trainer with Temple ISD for 16 years. Over that time, she has helped teach several students who have gone on to become trainers at other school districts, universities and professional sports teams.
"They're in the profession of athletic training. They might be in the medical field. They might be a teacher or they may just be a typical construction worker. It's just really neat to see them out being successful," she said.
Several of her current students say they plan to go into the medical field as a result of their time as student athletic trainers.
"I want to be an occupational therapist," Alexandra Garcia, one of Skrabanek's students, said. "But I didn't until I found out about this program."
On top of teaching students to wrap ankles and use the district's training equipment, Skrabanek has had to double down on cleaning efforts within the training room.
While she says they already cleaned equipment thoroughly before COVID-19, they have started spraying down everything in the training room with disinfectant and wiping down equipment and tables by hand.
"We did whatever we needed to do so we could stay active and keep our kids on the field safely," Skrabanek said.
That work is noticed by coaches and administrators. During March, Temple ISD is celebrating National Athletic Trainers Month.
"They do help make sure our athletes stay hydrated. When they have minor injuries, they're the first to be on hand to help those kids," Temple Girl's Track Head Coach Tamica Lavan said.