In the U.S., eight million high school students participate in sports activities each year. As student-athletes strive to become faster and stronger, they may increase their risk of injury. From 2015 to 2019, more than 5.2 million injuries occurred among American high school athletes.

If you’re the parent of a student-athlete, chances are your child may experience an injury at some point in their career. It’s how your sports medicine team works to prevent and care for athletic injuries that makes a difference now and in the future.

At Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, health and safety come first for the student-athletes we care for through our comprehensive sports medicine program. Our physicians and certified athletic trainers do everything they can to keep student-athletes healthy and injury free so they can compete at their best and have a long, successful career. If an injury occurs, an athletic trainer you trust will be there to assist your child and connect them with the best doctor for their condition.

Your Official Health Care Provider

Wake Forest Baptist Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is proud to serve over 100 high schools throughout the Carolinas, offering one of the largest athletic training outreach programs in the nation. Wake Forest Baptist is the official health care provider and team doctors for these schools and provides on-site athletic trainers at each school. In addition, we are the official health care provider, team doctors and sports nutritionists for many professional, collegiate and youth sports teams throughout the Carolinas, including the Carolina Panthers, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State, UNC Charlotte, Winston-Salem Dash, Charlotte Knights, NC Fusion and Charlotte FC.

What Does an Athletic Trainer Do?

Our athletic trainers work with school administrators, coaching staff, school nurses, physical therapists, parents and student-athletes to provide expert medical care on or off the field.

We specialize in preventing sports-related injuries, managing emergencies and providing rehabilitation for any injury that may occur – large or small.

“We provide immediate evaluation and treatment for any injury that pops up at either a practice or a game,” says Chris Ina, associate director of Athletic Training Services, Wake Forest Baptist Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

As nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals, our athletic trainers hold advanced or graduate degrees in athletic training and receive extensive training through formal internships, fellowships and on-the-job training with mentors in their field. They work with fellowship-trained medical directors who oversee and guide the sports medicine care provided to student-athletes.

Here are just some of the responsibilities of our certified athletic trainers:

Injury Evaluation

  • Recognize and evaluate injuries
  • Provide first aid and acute care
  • Determine if a referral for further care is needed

Injury Prevention

  • Design and implement injury prevention programs
  • Tape ankles and prepare athletes for practices and games
  • Understand general medical conditions, disabilities and health and wellness
  • Understand how nutrition can help with injuries and illnesses

Game-Day Support

  • Attend all home athletic events, matches and games (including practices)
  • Monitor field, environmental and weather conditions (e.g., heat index and lightning)
  • Manage in-game injuries by conducting sideline concussion evaluations and making return-to-play decisions

Emergency Action

  • Develop emergency action plans for schools
  • Provide acute and emergency care
  • Recognize and evaluate head injuries and concussions
  • Communicate with physicians, parents and coaches about injuries


  • Evaluate, treat and rehabilitate injuries and athletic-related illnesses
  • Develop return-to-play programs for injured athletes

Our athletic trainers provide on-site support during all home games and matches, including daily team practices. This helps maintain a strong connection between the athlete/parents/coaching staff and the Wake Forest Baptist medical staff, who act as the eyes and ears on the field and respond to medical needs in real time.

As part of our sports medicine program, doctors from our leading sports medicine team are specifically assigned to each school. If student-athletes become injured, we can easily connect them with our orthopaedic and sports medicine doctors for additional care. Beyond just injury-specific treatment, our doctors take the time to get to know each athlete as a person, considering their lifestyle and goals. They also consider how the rest of their body may be impacted by the injury or condition. 

If needed, we refer student-athletes to our national award-winning physical therapy experts. “We provide access to rehabilitation with expert physical therapists, along with the implementation of the most current return-to-play guidelines, to ensure an optimal return to sports participation with the lowest relative risk for reinjury,” notes Ina.

Resources for Convenient Care

We offer several resources to ensure your student-athlete can see our sports medicine experts quickly and conveniently. For example, we provide:

  • An on-site athletic trainer at their school and on the sidelines
  • Orthopaedic urgent care
  • Same-day clinical appointments for injuries
  • Saturday hours at select locations

Personalized Support and Treatment

Athletic trainers do much more than help athletes maximize physical safety and performance. The time they spend with student-athletes on a daily basis means they have many opportunities to help guide their development as young adults. This relationship makes it easier for athletic trainers to know how to provide personalized treatment when injuries occur. They often notice and assist with mental health issues – regardless of the athlete’s injury status.

Here’s what some of our athletic trainers said about supporting student-athletes:

  • “My passion for athletic training stems from following the athletes day in and day out throughout the season. Watching them improve, accomplish their team and personal goals and become the best version of themselves is what makes my job so special.” - Linsey Ciccocioppo, MS, LAT, ATC, Wake Forest Baptist, West Forsyth High School
  • “One of the things I like best about working with high school students is that you have kids who are still impressionable and need leadership and guidance. I love having the opportunity to help mold a student into a better human being.” - Jessica Herman Groulx, manager of Athletic Training Services, Wake Forest Baptist, Central Region

“We are proud to partner with school districts that value the health and safety of their student-athletes,” explains Ina. “The level of service we provide to student-athletes is unmatched. And the peace of mind we provide to parents by watching out for their kids’ safety is invaluable.”

Learn more about how we can support your athlete’s journey to success.

Success Stories

Read more about how we’ve helped student-athletes return to play: