Seaford High School grooms future athletic trainers


Students at Seaford High School are in luck if they are thinking about a career involving the care of injured athletes. They now have the opportunity to get valuable hands-on experience in one of the growing fields of study: sports medicine.

The school is offering the course as an elective program, officially called “Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries.”

In addition to being a standard elective class, dual enrollment is available for the students through Long Island University. Dual enrollment is an alternative to Advanced Placement, enabling high school students to receive college credits without taking the AP exams. It has grown in recent years as more colleges and universities have begun accepting dual enrollment credits.

Mike Spreckels, a 20-year veteran of Seaford Public Schools, has been assigned to teach the class in sports medicine. Spreckels taught elementary-level physical education for 15 years and has spent the last five years at the high school. For two of those years, Spreckels also served in an administrative capacity as the district’s athletic director.

“We teach all aspects of sports medicine,” Spreckels said. “The kids get exposure to different types of healthcare professionals from physical therapists, orthopedists, EMS and athletic trainers. We cover everything from musculoskeletal injuries, to concussions, to nutrition, CPR, first aid and using an AED.”

This is the third year the class will be taught, but the first year in which the students will be able to attain certification, through the American Red Cross, in emergency medicine such as first aid and CPR. According to Spreckels, these certifications are useful for students who may want to babysit or be a lifeguard and can also help them if they plan a career in Emergency Medical Services.

“We came up with this class through brainstorming,” Spreckels said. “Administration approached me with ideas, and I was all in. I’ve been an athletic trainer for 20 years. I love this class.”

According to Anthony Murray, the high school’s assistant principal, the class is a great way to connect physical education with classroom education.

“We see so many students involved in physical education now,” Murray said. “And district-wide, we’ve been connecting different forms of education as well. At the elementary schools, we’ve been doing LIFT (Library, Innovation, Fitness, Technology) Programs, which are combining social media elements with physical education. So for this class, we found another hybrid area between hands-on learning and classroom learning.”

Spreckels added, “We also want to include mental health in it. The mental health of athletes is so important. We cover what mental health for athletes looks like and how it can affect athletic performance.”

The class, offered to sophomores, juniors and seniors, is divided into 13 sections, all of which tackle a different aspect of sports medicine. Some are more hands on, such as a “limb-wrapping” unit, while others are more notes-based, such as being able to distinguish between the roles of different healthcare professionals. This embodies the LIFT theme, which helped to inspire the course.

The class also focuses on concussion protocol — something that professional sports is in desperate need of, especially considering the growing number of retired football players and boxers being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy from repeated concussions.

“We spend a lot of time learning what they are and how to treat them,” Spreckels said of concussions. “I guess what we are going for is to teach the students all the aspects of a well-rounded sports medicine team, from doctors to spotters. And we also want to teach them what different healthcare professionals do, such as the differences between physical therapists and orthopedists.”

The Herald recently reported on the growth of Wantagh School District’s unique elective offerings, which included pottery, computer design, hydroponics, and more.

Now, Seaford High School has one elective program that has the potential to grow into one of its star classes.