Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Human Performance and Health Education

First Advisor

Gretchen Mohney

Second Advisor

Brian Bauer

Third Advisor

Jacob Kuipers


The main goal of an athletic trainer is player safety and the general health and well-being of the athlete. Because of this drive to protect the athletes they are responsible for, athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals continuously strive to improve health care tactics, efficiency of responding to an injury, and rehabilitation of injuries. It is important, however, that athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals are supported in administering treatment by other people surrounding their team, league, or school. A league generally has rules and regulations to aid healthcare professionals in providing necessary care, as well as make the access of those healthcare professionals as easy as possible for athletes. Even though the sport of hockey has been proven to have a higher rate of injury than a number of other sports, there is a great number of youth hockey programs that do not require a health care professional at any event, and do not employ or use any athletic trainers. Instead, hockey leagues require coaches and officials to be responsible for the immediate medical care of the athlete. More often than not, parents in the stands who are health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pediatricians, etc. end up going to the ice to tend to an injured player. While some parents see this as a positive to have a parent that can help, it should not be necessary in the first place, and that parent should not feel obligated to be at every event just to tend to injured players. Luckily, because of the rise in media attention for youth sports injuries, safety and care for injured athletes has become a topic of discussion in a number of hockey leagues across the nation, including the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA). Unfortunately, discussing the issues does not bring about change in a timely fashion, and some of the changes that have begun to be implemented have more of a Band-Aid effect, instead of fixing the root of the issue. Requiring coaches to have first-aid training and having the King-Devick Test available to be used by a coach or parent are policies that were created to aid in player safety, but they do not solve the true problem and also can create other problems. The main issue facing youth travel hockey (Midget Major and below) is that there is no health care professional on-site who is trained and prepared to deal with an acute injury or emergency medical situation. This responsibility does not need to fall on a coach, official, or parent, but should come from a licensed medical professional. The only true medical professional that is licensed and trained to handle both emergency medical situations and all other acute injuries and general medical, is an athletic trainer. Having an athletic trainer required at all youth travel hockey games and tournaments would make parents, coaches, officials, and players feel much safer. An athletic trainer at all games will be able to better treat, evaluate, and refer any injury that a player might sustain during a game more than a coach or official would. This would also ease the burden on parents who might otherwise have to step in during an emergency. While the process of implementing athletic trainers into youth travel hockey through a league such as MAHA may seem like a large and expensive project, the positive outcomes far outweigh the costs.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted