PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - The delayed high school football season will finally kick off later this week following months of preparations. The preparations have been made not just by the players and coaches, but also from those behind the scenes who help make South Mississippi Strong.
Before the players can put on the helmets, leading up to every practice and every game, athletic trainers are busy making sure the athletes are ready to take the field.
“They keep us going. The kids get banged up every day, they help keep them together. They get them right with organization and just help us get ready for practice,” said Pass Christian Head Coach Chase Carmody. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Laura Miller is part of a team of trainers spread out at high schools across the Coast. Miller primarily looks after the Pass Christian Pirates, and as busy as she would normally be, in 2020 she has added responsibilities.
“It’s changed everything,” Miller said.
Miller has to make sure the training area is even more clean than usual. Maybe the biggest challenge she’s faced is figuring out how to get the players water. In games, they’ll have to use individual water bottles instead of sharing them. In practice, the trainers set up a hydration system to keep the water flowing while keeping the players spread out.
“It’s pretty much been trial and error, so we did these for practices and that’s what a lot of the other schools are doing,” Miller said. “In games, we tried to think of things. Some schools are doing cups and we’re doing water bottles. I find that’s a little easier to go out for timeouts and stuff like that.”
This offseason has been extra long and there’s been extra work to do, but it will all be worth it for Miller when she watches the Pirates run out on the field Friday night.
“Whenever things were halted I didn’t like that. I love being out here and taking care of the athletes,” Miller said. “We’re taking all the precautions and being as safe as we can, so hopefully things continue to progress.”
Most days are long for the trainers, like Tuesday, Miller started the morning in the physical care clinic, then she went to football practice, before working a volleyball game at night in Bay St. Louis.
Pass Christian opens the 2020 football season hosting Purvis on Friday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.