Students at Gilmour Academy who have muscle aches, injuries, or questions about what they need to do to improve their physical health, they know exactly who to see. Ms. Kara Dolling has been the athletic trainer at Gilmour Academy for the past four years providing rehab, on site injury treatment, and injury prevention services for students during athletic events as well as during regular hours of school days.
After studying at Northeastern and Georgia State University for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Dolling served one year as the athletic trainer for the Atlanta Dream in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and then as the athletic trainer at Holy Innocents Episcopal School in Atlanta, Georgia before coming to Gilmour. Dolling is in her fourth year at Gilmour and uses her experience to treat students and work with their families on a daily basis.
No matter the time of day or athletic event, students can always go to Dolling in her office or onsite at sporting events to receive treatment. After sustaining some injuries this season, one of Gilmour’s Prep Hockey defense men Liam Gentile (`17) said, “I feel reassured that if something were to happen to me, Kara would be there to take care of me.” He went on to explain how helpful Dolling has been in the process of getting his body back to being 100% healthy and ready to play again. “During free-blocks or after school, I see her in her office to receive treatment because I know she is here all day,” said Gentile.
Though much of her day is spent treating students, Dolling also has a large role in communicating with parents, coaches, and physicians. “Think of it as a medical team. I must make communication clear between students, parents, personal doctors, and coaches in order to get an injured student back to being healthy in a way that is agreed upon by everyone who is involved with a student’s health,” said Dolling. She stressed the importance of making sure that communication is clear between teachers as well because there are some classroom activities that could prolong the recovery of a student. As a part of this, Dolling also manages physicals, concussion testing, and injury/treatment documentation for students.
Dolling encourages injured students to see her as much as possible during free blocks or after school in order to begin the healing and strengthening process. “Our big thing is that we do our best to bridge the gap between an injury and a full recovery to safely and successfully get students back to playing at their 100%,” Dolling said.
As a requirement of the Ohio High School Activities Association (OHSAA), athletic trainers must be present during all athletic events that are taking place on campus whether it’s a practice or a game. Although this may be a requirement, strength and conditioning coach Mr. Danny Coughlin explained how lucky students at Gilmour are to have Dolling as the school trainer. “Most athletic trainers do not arrive on campus until the late afternoon when practices begin, but Kara is here from 9 in the morning, until the very last athletic event of the day concludes,” said Coach Coughlin.
While Dolling’s constant presence around campus during school and athletic events helps students in the process of injury treatment and rehabilitation, Dolling does not do everything all on her own. Typically, each athletic trainer is accompanied by an assistant athletic trainer, and this year, Dolling has been joined by Ms. Maddie Legerski who is an Ohio native who recently attended Ashland University and will be continuing her education at the University of West Virginia next fall.
Since there are constantly athletic events on campus, Legerski explained that Dolling and herself have to communicate frequently to determine who will be at each event. She spoke to why they are always present during athletic events saying, “Kara and myself are at each event in order to prevent, evaluate, rehab, and treat the injuries that our students sustain.” The presence of an athletic trainer as well as an assistant at Gilmour allows for all events to have sports medicine personnel ready to treat students on site as well as during the school day.
In addition to Dolling’s care provided during school and at athletic events, she also teaches at Gilmour. The semester long class, “Intro to Sports Medicine” has allowed for students to learn about sports medicine at the introductory level. The class is something that she began teaching when she worked in Atlanta, but has now brought to Gilmour hoping to educate students about sports medicine. “The goal is to educate students on the basic injury process so that students know how to take care of themselves or others in the future,” said Dolling.
“I loved taking ‘Intro to Sports Medicine’,” said resident student Tim Lopez (`17). “We explored how different parts of the body functioned along with how to treat injuries that occur in those areas,” said Lopez. He later talked about how the class had “hands on” training inside the classroom to learn exactly how to treat an injury. Lopez said, “After learning the basic information, we were shown how to wrap, ice/heat, and treat areas of the body such as the shoulder, hip, hand, and wrist.”
Dolling hopes that any students who would like to learn about sports medicine should sign up to take the class for the following semester. She is excited that there have been more students becoming interested in taking the course.
As part of their mission, both Dolling and Legerski strive to create an environment to best suit the needs of students by providing on site treatment as well as being in the sports medicine office treating students in the recovery process each day. Students are reminded to come in to the Athletic Center and see the sports medicine staff during free periods or after school to address any aches or pains that they are experiencing.