H-F High offers student athletes special care from athletic trainers

When athletes at Homewood-Flossmoor High School turn up with sprained ankles, broken bones and the occasional concussion, they get excellent care from two professional athletic trainers.
Athletic trainer Danni Werner tapes the wrist of H-F football player Izuchukwu Ozoh, a junior. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
  Athletic trainer Danni Werner
  tapes the wrist of H-F football
  player, junior Izuchukwu Ozoh.
 (Photos by Marilyn Thomas/
  H-F Chronicle)

In spring 2019, the work of Brad Kleine and Danni Werner of Athletico Physical Therapy won H-F the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Safe Sports School Award in recognition of their efforts at enhancing sports safety by sharing “best practices and policies that ensure a high standard of athlete care.”

Kleine and Werner help not only with safety measures, but day-to-day needs of athletes during any school day and at games. There are 32 team sports at H-F involving close to 900 students.

There is no typical day for athletic trainers. At the opening of school, football players were at the Mall Building, just off the football field, to get ankles and wrists taped. Then Werner was off to give cheerleaders a neuro-cognitive exam, taken on computer.

The baseline test can be used as a standard for comparison should the athlete have a concussion. The test is good for two years and is administered to all freshmen, juniors and transfer students in athletics.

Athletic trainer Brad Kleine works to relieve neck pain of Lucas De La Torre, a football player at H-F High.
  Athletic trainer Brad Kleine
  works to relieve neck pain of
  Lucas De La Torre, a football
  player at H-F High.


Athletic trainers’ care is administered “depending on the nature of the sport, the level of play and on the risk of injury,” Kleine said. Football is a collision sport. Players will have different injuries than contact sports, such as basketball and soccer.

“We take care of the kids who walk into our office,” regardless of the sport or the athlete’s grade level, Kleine explained.  Players will come in with a turned ankle, a wrenched knee, feeling a little off after being hit and Kleine and Werner deal with those needs. He says those are the easy issues needing attention.

“It’s when they say this hurts and I don’t know why — now we have to put on our detective hat and figure out what hurts, why it hurts,” Kleine said.

They fall back on their training. Kleine has a degree in kinesiology with a specialty in athletic training from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Werner has a degree in psychology and athletic training from North Central College. 

Kleine has been working at H-F for 14 years. His duties were paired with teachers who took on athletic training after school. As those teachers stepped away from the responsibility, Athletico hired Werner, a 2013 H-F graduate, as a second trainer for H-F.

The work of an athletic trainer is year-round. They start at 1 p.m. and are on campus until 7:30 p.m. or so, although schedules include being present for all games that can go on into the late hours.

Now they are in fall sports mode so football, soccer, girls swimming, tennis and volleyball are on that list. are on that list. Winter sports are indoors, including boys and girls basketball, gymnastics and wrestling. In spring, team sports include boys volleyball, baseball and softball.

For most of the year, Kleine and Werner are working out of the Mall Building. When winter arrives, they move to the South Building gym and the North Building fieldhouse so students don’t have to cross the path in bad weather to get treatment.

“In winter about 80 percent of our sports are in the fieldhouse,” Kleine said. He and Werner do two-month rotations between North and South, but the load “can be overwhelming (at North) so we pace each other and help each other out.”

The girls basketball team suffered numerous injuries last season, so Kleine is bringing in a team from Athletico to put the 2020 team through its paces so a proper assessment can be done.  

“We’ll be doing knee screenings. The test is ACL3P. We’ll run a team through movement patterns to determine what their risks are for injuries to the knee. We’ll try to develop a strategy to keep that from happening again,” he said. 

Kleine and Werner also met with representatives of the Flossmoor Fire Department at the start of the year “to set out who’s going to do what and what are the roles of each of us and the access needed. That way, if we had a major injury we know what care is necessary and how to transfer the patient. We train, train, train so if you ever need that (type of care) it’s just automatic,” he said. 

The athletic trainers also get special assistance from 12 students selected to be members of the Athletic Training Aides Club. This year’s members are Sandra Aldape, Sydney Cartwright, Marissa Esparza, Larkin Hagerman, Louis Lampley, Amelia Lundstrom, Kassidy Porter, Emily Viurquiz, Vivian Werner, Kelsey West, Ariana Worthy and Laura Zapata.

Student trainers go through a special summer camp learning terms, anatomy, how to tape and other essentials. 

It was the Athletic Training Aides Club that got Werner interested in the profession. She had thought she’d go into nursing, and club was the only student organization on campus that offered a look at a healthcare field.

“I joined the club and I was sold,” she recalled. “From then on, I knew this is what I wanted to do.” She and Kleine are the club’s sponsors.

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.


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