Proposed partnership between CCS, UNC Medicine would bring athletic trainers to J-M, Chatham Central

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PITTSBORO — Jordan-Matthews’ and Chatham Central’s athletic departments are slated to benefit from a new proposed partnership between Chatham County Schools and the UNC School of Medicine as early as this fall.

At the most recent Chatham County Board of Education meeting on Aug. 12, an agreement was presented between UNC-Chapel Hill and CCS that would provide two certified athletic trainers from the UNC School of Medicine to work in the athletic departments at both J-M and Chatham Central, providing much-needed medical services to athletes.

The agreement states that the two athletic trainers will divide their time between working at a UNC Health Care Facility and performing after-school athletic trainer duties in Siler City and Bear Creek.

The county already has two high schools, Northwood and Seaforth, with certified athletic trainers employed via re-purposed teaching positions.

“Currently, we have full-time certified athletic trainers at Northwood and Seaforth and this will bridge the gap for us,” Chris Blice, CCS Assistant Superintendent for Operations, said at last Thursday’s meeting. “(This type of partnership is) very common across the state and in a number of school districts. But the opportunity just finally came our way and this is something we didn’t feel that we should pass up.”

This partnership would bring to the table a plethora of benefits for athletes and coaches at both schools, including a chance for better communication about injuries, more accessible ways to treat them and, perhaps most importantly, takes the decision on whether an athlete can play with an injury out of the coach’s hands.

“I’ve been pumped about it ever since we found out,” J-M Athletic Director Josh Harris told the News + Record via text message on Monday. “(This) provides us with a direct medical source on campus consistently. … You really need a trainer to help make those decisions, which will help protect athletes and coaches alike.”

As of now, the contract between UNC-Chapel Hill and CCS is under attorney review and it is expected that it’ll be presented to the board for approval during the Sept. 13 meeting.

If approved, the athletic trainers — who have yet to be selected for the positions — would be expected to start soon, during the first semester of the 2021-22 academic year.

“(This is) much-needed for our student-athletes and will make their athletic experience and our athletic department multiple times better,” Harris said. “(I’m) super excited about this possibility.”

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at vhensley@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.

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