March is National Athletic Training Month and, for the Cabot School District, it is something that is taken seriously by the athletic training staff.

The 2012-13 school year is Cabot’s second to have a staff of Certified Athletic Trainers, headed by Jason Cates, who has 20 years of athletic training experience in college, professional, clinical and high school settings. He attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Cates’ assistant trainer is Mitchell Batts, who is originally Ohio. He attended Harding University in Searcy and had three years of experience in college and high school settings.

Two more athletic trainers are also teachers in the school district. Jonathan Elrod is also licensed emergency medical technical and teaches first responder curriculum. He has seven years of college and high school experience.

Lindsey Wade is also a teacher and trainer. She attended Tulsa University and has one year of postgraduate experience.

Cates, Batts and Elrod are in their second year at Cabot. This is Wade’s first year with the district.

"First of all, we are thankful to the administration and the school board of Cabot Public Schools," Cates said. "Without their support and vision, it would not be possible for us to strive to have the best sports medicine program in the state of Arkansas."

The Cabot training staff are employees of the district.

"We are not outsiders coming into the district from a clinic or hospital," Cates said. "We are at school daily. We are available before, during and after school hours. Coaches, athletes and parents get to know us and we get to know them."

Cates said the athletes do not have to leave school to be seen by his staff.

"We are truly a part of the district and athletic department," he said. "An important advantage of our program is providing our students the state-approved sports medicine curriculum. We are one of five school districts in the state that are preparing the next generation of athletic healthcare professionals."

One of those students is former Cabot Panthers quarterback/tight end Brandon Boatright.

Cabot superintendent Tony Thurman has a similar sentiment.

"Our investment in certified athletic trainers has been a success not only for our athletic programs but for the students interested in considering this as a career path," he said.

Thurman said he’s gotten good response from patrons of the district for the athletic training staff.

"I have had numerous parents express their appreciation, not only for the quality of work that our trainers perform with our student-athletes but for the genuine compassion and professionalism provided at all times."

Thurman said Cabot’s training staff members are part of the Panther family.

"The benefit that I have found having trainers work exclusively for the district is that they truly become a Panther team and are committed to doing what is best for our student athletes and our district," he said. "It becomes obvious after spending time with the trainers and visiting with our coaching staff that they want to do everything possible for our athletic programs to be successful."

Cates said the purpose of the National Athletic Training Month is to education the public about the profession itself.

This year’s slogan is "Every Body needs an athletic trainer."

"This means every active body that may experience sprains, strains, breaks or tears can benefit from the services of a health care professional, such as a licensed athletic trainer," Cates said. "We are not personal trainers. We have college degrees in sports medicine/athletic training. We are trained to handle emergency situations such as head, neck and spinal injuries, exertional heat illness, cardiac issues and concussions."

Cates said certified athletic trainers are orthopedic specialists.

"We administer musculoskeletal rehabilitation, nutrition and individualized athletic performance protocols under physician directives," he said. "Today, we may evaluate your ankle sprain and tomorrow save your life from a catastrophic athletic event. We are more than ‘ankle tapers’ and ‘ice bag appliers.’"