From prevention to rehabilitation, Savig cares for FHS student-athletes

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Rodney Savig probably attends more Faribault Falcon sporting events than anyone else. He’s not a coach, a booster club member, or technically even a fan, but he provides a valuable resource for athletes and plays a huge role in supporting Falcon athletics and helping them succeed.

As an athletic trainer with nearly 30 years of experience, Savig works with Faribault High School student-athletes on a daily basis, helping them with injury prevention and recovery, and everything in-between.

Savig is contracted to provide healthcare for students at FHS through his job at Courage Kenny Sports and Physical Therapy in Faribault. He spends about half his time operating out of his office at the clinic, and the rest in his office outside Nomeland Gymnasium or at sporting events around town. Before he came to Faribault 10 years ago he served in a similar role working in a clinic and at the high school in Willmar for 17 years.

Savig grew up in Lake Park, Minn. and earned his athletic training degree from North Dakota State University.

What’s your favorite part of being an athletic trainer?

“One of the things I like about being an athletic trainer is I get to be around all of the sporting events. I really like athletics and it allows me to be around that environment. High school kids are great. Their energy and enthusiasm is really fun to be around. Maybe it’s even keeping me young, even though I know I’m not as young as I used to be.”

What parts of the job don’t you enjoy?

“It can be difficult to deal with others’ pain. Being busy with evening activities 5-6 days a week can be a negative thing, but I guess I’ve learned the life management and work-life balance skills and that’s made a difference. It hurts when things don’t go well for the teams or the kids. Crappy weather, but I accept it as part of the job.”

Besides tending to injured athletes, what other duties does your job entail?

“Injury prevention, evaluation, treatment, rehab, getting kids to where they can return to play. The whole process from before an injury, to the time of the injury all the way to full rehab and hopefully getting them back out there better than they were before. I can be involved every step along the way.”

What’s your step by step procedure when approaching an injured athlete?

“The first thing I do is be aware of the basics like their level of consciousness. Are they conscious or not? Breathing or not breathing? I try to rule out all of the emergency type of conditions. From there I get a history of the injury or problem. Sometimes I witness what happened and other times I don’t. Then I do an evaluation and decide if it’s something we can remove safely to the sideline or if we need emergency services to stabilize the individual. There’s a lot of decision making. Luckily it’s usually not catastrophic. Usually it’s something like an ankle or a knee that we can keep evaluating and figure out if they can play or not. That’s the big thing on the sideline. Then I follow up in the next few days and we take the process from there. Can we protect the injury with a device or tape? Do we need to take an x-ray or do rehab?”

Are there any changes you would like to see made or things athletes can do to make high school sports safe?

“Equipment is getting better and better, so that has been a good thing for the impact and collision sports. I think the biggest thing to help protect anybody from athletic injury is to be well-prepared physically. It usually comes down to if you have had the appropriate strength and conditioning before you enter into competition, and for those who have had injuries, have you resolved the problem with rehab? Are you protecting your injury properly? Sometimes kids get so anxious to get back to competition, they don’t always get everything done. But the big thing with growing kids is being prepared physically, mentally and emotionally.”

How does working with athletes compare to working with other patients?

“Sports has those ups and downs. I’ve had situations in the past where you watch kids grow up and they get injured and it kind of breaks your heart. Then when they’re able to return it’s quite rewarding as well. Any athlete can be on top of the world one day and not the next day. Every day is different and every person is different. Everybody that gets injured is a person and you have to build a relationship with them. It’s a lot of fun.”

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