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School athletic trainer profile

Oceanside's Britt builds trust, relationships with Mariners, families, community

With passion for outdoors, she looks for Midcoast's 'hidden gems' to hike, kayak — wants to learn to sail
By Ken Waltz | May 13, 2020
Courtesy of: Mary Britt Mary Britt.

Rockland — Editor's note: You see them at school athletic events or practices. They are fixtures on the sideline — until they spring into action when needed on the field, court, diamond, mat, floor, track, course, slope, ice or poolside. They are the ones who help keep young student-athletes in the game. They are there to comfort, treat and support youngsters, from any school, who have sustained an injury, no matter how insignificant. They are fans of their school teams and student-athletes. They are extensively trained, eager and ready to administer sports medicine when needed — to lend a personal touch. They are the calm and reasoned when emotions and fear are high. This is one in a series that takes a closer look at Midcoast school athletic trainers, the unsung, mostly behind-the-scenes, heroes — until they are called into action during a child's more traumatic, painful experience.

Here is a closer look at one of them:

Name: Mary Britt.

Age: 46.

Years as athletic trainer?: 24. Hard to believe I will be starting my 25th year.

Years at current school(s)?: Oceanside, three.

Town or city you live in?: Waldoboro.

High school and college/what school sports or activities did you do, year graduated, what studied in college?: Ellsworth High School, 1992. University of New Hampshire, bachelor's degree in kinesiology, with an emphasis in athletic training, 1996. Southern New Hampshire University, master’s in business administration, concentration in healthcare administration, 2014

Why and how did you get in this field?: True story. I don’t know if anyone remembers it but, ESPN used to have a show called Scholastic Sports America, and they featured high school kids working as student athletic trainers. I love sports, and was interested in a medical field, and love helping people. From that point I knew I wanted to be an athletic trainer.

What is your role, responsibilities and how far does your authority go (are you the one who decides who can play and who cannot play if in-game injury protocol)?: I am responsible for managing all of the athletic injuries at Oceanside and deciding if an athlete’s injury can be managed in-house or needs to be referred to a physician. This is where it is crucial that the athletic trainer have good relationships with the athletes, parents, coaches, and physicians. You want the athletes to feel safe coming to you and discussing their injuries. The athlete trainer often acts as an advocate for the athlete and go-between for the athlete, parents, coaches, and physicians. Once an athlete sees a physician, they have to be cleared by the physician to return to their sport. Having a good relationship with the physician aids in the treatment of the athlete. I work for Pen Bay Orthopaedics and they contract with Regional School Unit 13 to have me onsite at the school. This relationship allows me to work closely with the physicians at Pen Bay Orthopaedics, which benefits the Oceanside athletes.

Best and worst aspects of your job?: The best part of the job is the relationships you build with the athletes, parents, coaches, athletic directors, community members and being a part of the local community. The worst is always telling an athlete that is out of competition whether it’s for a game or the rest of the season. Seeing the disappointment on their faces is not easy.

Most rewarding aspect of dealing with young athletes?: For me the most rewarding aspect of working with young athletes is off the field. It’s the bonds and relationships you build with athletes during their time in high school. It’s rewarding to see them grow and mature into young adults. They change so much in their high school years. I have also kept in contact with many athletes over the years. It’s fun to see where life takes them and their successes.

Do you feel like you are part of the school teams, like a coach or mentor, or just a person with the team doing a specific job?: You are a part of the team. You are with the athletes and coaches day in and day out all season. Some athletes and coaches you build better bonds with than others, especially athletes and teams with many injuries. One of my goals as an athletic trainer is that my athletic training room is a safe space for all athletes to come in and not only discuss athletic injuries, but anything an athlete wants to discuss with me. At times you’re an athletic trainer, a coach, a mentor, or a counselor.

Hobbies, passions, other things you do that tell people more about you?: I love the outdoors. Since moving to the Midcoast two--and-half years ago, I have discovered there are a lot of great hiking spots and have climbed the local mountains. Since social distancing began, I have started exploring some of the lesser-known preserves. I’m discovering there are a lot of local hidden gems. I also love being on the water and love to kayak. Being so near the ocean I would love to learn how to sail. I’ve lived in Maine most of my life, and never realized what a great place the Midcoast is.

You watch a lot of school sports, which are your favorite?: Ice hockey is my favorite sport to watch. I grew up watching the University of Maine hockey team in their glory years and am fortunate to have seen them win both their national championships in-person. I still make it to UMaine games when I can. I can tell you nothing beats the atmosphere of Friday night high school football, or the excitement of watching your team play for a state championship.

Do you have a favorite moment watching school sports, a personal or team achievement that makes you proud and happy?: As an athletic trainer we have athletes that suffer season-ending injuries that are devastating to the athlete and their families. Often times these injuries require surgery. There is nothing better than to see the athlete go through the whole process from surgery to rehab to finally returning to competition.

I have been fortunate enough to have several teams make it to various state championship games. To see the athletes and coaches achieve what they have worked so hard for is awesome. In addition, it’s also great to see the community rally around the team and give them the recognition they deserve.

You obviously become fans of your school's teams, but your job is to focus on helping all athletes, correct? Do you become vested in the athletes and teams?: I think it’s only natural that athletic trainers become not only vested in their athletes, and teams, but the school as whole, and the local community. Building strong relationships with athletes, parents, coaches, athletic directors, and other school officials is part of the job. You want the whole athletic department to succeed. You are right there cheering the teams on in their victories and consoling them in their defeats.

You are on site to be athletic trainer first, but I see so many of you do anything to help schools, programs. What are some of the "extra things" you do to help out not in your job description?: You want to be a team player and do what it takes to help make the athletic department successful and run smoothly. I don’t do anything specific to help out, but if there is something that needs to be done, I’ll do it.

How are you personally dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and not being able to work with athletes and schools?: This has been tough, like many I have been climbing the walls at home. This time has allowed me to work from home on projects. It has made me realize I’m not a work-at-home-on-a-computer-all-day person. It has also made me realize how much I do love my job. I can’t wait to be back on the Oceanside sidelines.

Do you have other jobs or use your medical/athletic training in other ways?: I have over the years worked per diem as an athletic trainer for local colleges, sports camps, as well as the Maine Principals' Association. Working for the MPA I have worked their ice hockey tournament, wrestling, cross country, and cheering championships.

Can you tell me anything else about you personally, what makes you tick?: I feel very lucky to be a part of the Oceanside community. In my three years at the school I have met a lot of great people. From my first season at Oceanside I have felt welcomed into the community. They tell you to find something you love to do, and it doesn’t seem like work, and that’s what my career as an athletic trainer is to me. I get to watch sports, but, more importantly, I get to help people. Go Mariners.

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