Athletic trainer works behind the scenes to help keep Jackson County athletes safe


Since 2013, one man has always worked behind the bench — and the scenes — at Seymour High School: Kyle Coates.

Whether it’s the summer, fall, winter or spring, the certified athletic trainer is ready at a moment’s notice to help keep athletes healthy and safe at Seymour.

Coates has worked in the world of sports medicine for a number of years and is a Jackson County native.

After graduating from Brownstown Central High School in 2001, Coates got a bachelor’s degree in athletic training at Indiana University.

He then earned a master’s degree in sports management at Eastern Kentucky University while also working as a graduate assistant as an assistant athletic trainer. During his time at EKU, Coates said he worked with the women’s volleyball and track teams.

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Out of school, Coates got straight to work in the field.

“I worked for a physical therapy company originally called Advanced Physical Therapy, and then it was bought out by ATI Physical Therapy,” Coates said. “I did industrial rehabilitation. I worked with employees in industrial settings like factories and packing facilities. I would do the physical therapy and rehab to get them back to work. I helped out in physical therapy clinics, as well.”

In 2013, Coates got the call from Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.

“Schneck called me because they knew I lived in the area and knew I was an athletic trainer,” Coates said. “The athletic trainer at Seymour High School had resigned and moved on to another school. The school was looking to replace that, and the hospital really wanted to take that over. At the same time, we hired a couple orthopedic surgeons that were interested in sports medicine, so they thought it would be a good fit to tie that in with the athletic trainers at the school.”

Two years into the job, Schneck expanded its outreach. They now have athletic trainers at all Jackson County schools, as well as Scottsburg and Jennings County.

“Basically, we’re employed by the hospital, but we’re working in the schools,” Coates said. “We’re pretty much contracted to the school. They give us free reign of how we want to manage the sports medicine at each of the schools.”

Coates attends every home sporting event year-round and also works during the summer.

“We’re contracted to work all the home events for sports, and for football, we’re also contracted to travel with them,” Coates said. “Outside of that, it’s kind of up to us how we handle our treatments. The referral process is kind of the same across the board. We’re going to refer to surgeons, physical therapists, neurologists or to the emergency room.”

Each day during the school year, Coates goes through a routine.

Coates shows up to the school around the last block of the day and works out of the athletic training room at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

As soon as the bell rings, athletes funnel in and out of his office.

If the athlete has a game that day, he will work with them at least two hours in advance to make sure they’re ready for the day.

During games, Coates is in attendance to help with any injuries that may occur for either team.

He then helps athletes at the end of games before heading home.

In order to keep up with advances in sports medicine, Coates is required to put in time outside of his job.

“Athletic trainers are required to have 50 hours of continuing education every two years,” Coates said. “A lot of other health care professions don’t require that much. Sometimes, you think it’s a little above and beyond, but there are so many different philosophies, techniques and treatments out there. You have to stay on top of them or you will be behind. “

Coates has seen the benefits of having an athletic trainer on staff with the schools.

“I think it’s pretty neat because I grew up in this area,” Coates said. “I played sports (basketball and tennis) at Brownstown, so being in the community and helping the teams we played for is pretty special. Growing up, we never had athletic trainers. As that has grown, it’s neat to see all these communities in our (area) are getting athletic trainers. I think, in this county, we have great access to sports medicine, which we didn’t have 10 to 15 years ago.”

For Coates, building relationships with the students and staff at Seymour is rewarding.

“Some other health care providers get to see their patients once or twice a year,” Coates said. “I get to see the kids almost every day for four years. It creates a close bond, working with those kids on a daily basis.

“I’ve always loved sports. I’ve always loved being around sports. When I found out this is a career where you could actually help out athletes stay on the field or in the game, whatever they’re playing, I knew it’s something I would be interested in. You create close bonds with people, and I love working with people.”

Outside of his work, Coates spends his time with his wife, Holly, and sons, Grady, 8, Cooper, 4, and Colton, 2.

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