By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Turlock High athletic training receives national recognition
Turlock High athletic training award
Turlock High Athletics Trainer Mike Collins wraps Noah Cossey's ankle after school on Tuesday. Turlock High recently received the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Safe Sports School award (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Student athletes at Turlock High School are among the safest in the nation as made evident by the campus’ latest honor — the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Safe Sports School award, which champions athletic training programs that provide the best level of care, injury prevention and treatment.

“Turlock High School is honored to receive this 1st Team recognition from NATA, and we remain committed to keeping our student athletes safe during physical education classes, team practices and games so they can accomplish their own goals of great competition, winning records, fair sportsmanship and good health,” Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan said. “Our goal is to lead our athletics programs to the highest safety standards for our players.”

According to NATA President Scott Sailor, schools that achieve Safe Sport School status are recognized thanks to their implementation of safe sports policies and best practices which ensure athletes can not only enjoy the sports they love, but also have peace of mind that their school has the appropriate care in place to prevent, manage and treat injuries should they occur.

There are two Safe Sport School award categories, 1st Team and 2nd Team. In its first time applying for the award, Turlock High School received 1st Team recognition and is just the 20th public high school in the state to be recognized by NATA.

“It’s nice to be nationally recognized,” Turlock High’s certified athletic trainer Mike Collins said. “Not very many schools have achieved that and to be a part of that select few is an honor. It just goes to show that hard work pays off.”

Turlock has had a certified athletic trainer since 1976, Collins said, putting the campus “eons ahead” of other schools in the area. Even today, only 37 percent of high schools throughout the country have full-time athletic trainers on campus. In California, less than half of the state’s schools have an athletic trainer.  

Since its inception, Turlock’s athletic training program has grown to work with local doctors in the community to develop an emergency action plan for the school in the event of a life-threatening injury. Collins, who is in his 21st year with Turlock High, maintains expertise in emergency procedures, as he is responsible for obtaining pertinent medical histories and providing daily evaluation of injuries as well as the preventative, rehabilitation and reconditioning treatments needed for athletes to perform to the best of their ability.

It was a combination of these things and a lengthy checklist of other qualifications that earned Turlock High the honor.

“Turlock Unified has made this a priority for quite some time now,” Collins said.

Turlock High’s athletic training program benefits from the services of a number of local physicians, including James Knapp, MD, Scott Hennes, MD, and his son Ethan and Eric McMillan, MD, who participate in low cost physical exams every summer and cover home football games in addition to many other services that help the campus provide quality health care to all athletes.

While the work that Collins and the rest of Turlock High’s athletic training program provide behind the scenes may sometimes fly under the radar, it often can directly affect the outcome on the playing field. But safety, rather than score, is what comes first for the program, Collins said.

“With us out there, there’s somebody watching out for the kids’ safety and not worrying about the score or on-field performance,” he said. “Obviously it has a direct impact, but there’s also somebody just looking out for the kids as a priority.”

On Friday night at 7:15 p.m., there will be a ceremony to present the athletic training program with the NATA Safe Sports School award before the Turlock High football game at Joe Debely Stadium, where Congressman Jeff Denham and Assemblyman Heath Flora will be in attendance.

For more information about NATA and the Safe Sports School award, visit