Providence answered the call

October 22, 2005

The HRVHS training room, remodeled and equipped by Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, is hosting an open house from 5:30-6:45 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28.

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Students trickle into the Hood River Valley High School training room at about 3 p.m. By 3:15 Ed Medina has his hands full, taping the ankles, knees and wrists of about 25 young athletes making their daily transition from the classroom to the field, or the gym. They line up and wait, patiently, for a turn on the taping table and a little attention from trainer Medina.

For a typical taping job, Medina first uses a sticky spray, which is cold on contact. The kids don’t like it, but without the spray the pre-wrap would slide around once a sweat is broken. And without pre-wrap, practicing with and removing athletic tape from bare skin is worse than a hot-wax. He tapes the kids and sends them on their way to practice.

On his fourth ankle of the afternoon, the whirlpool that was filling up with hot water overflows and sends a layer of water across a corner of the room. The students intervene with towels and a mop, and a minor catastrophe is avoided. Jake Gilkerson eases himself into the tub for a 15-minute soak to help a hurt knee and shoulder.

Gilkerson, along with a handful of others in the room, won’t be practicing for awhile. Their injuries require ice and rest. The training room is equipped with an automatic ice machine, so the first part is easily taken care of. Getting high school athletes to rest and stay off of an injury is another story.

A few years ago, the Eagles’ training room was through a side-door that now has a quote painted on the wall next to it. The quote, provided by Medina and painted by students, reads; “Remember, winning is an attitude … so is losing. Which do you want to be remembered for?”

The old training room was through that door, in with the same washers and dryers that are there today. It consisted of a wood table and a couple boxes of athletic tape. Pre-wrap spray and pre-wrap were hard to come by. Back then, athletes often taped themselves and their teammates, and the only ice machine was in the cafeteria kitchen.

And next to the old training room, where players now get taped every day, was a row of rusty old football lockers and a long wood bench.

As fast as they came in, the athletes are gone and off to work with their coaches. Medina re-organizes the room and the supply cabinet before heading to the sidelines of a soccer game at Westside Field.

The transition

The transition from a table and some boxes next to washing machines, to a fully-equipped training room, was made possible by the help of Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

Medina started as a volunteer trainer for the Eagles in 1998, with his son Ryan as a quarterback on the football team. In the fall of 2001, the old lockers were pulled out and the new training room was underway. At the same time, however, school funding, especially for athletics, was on the budget cutting board.

Medina approached Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital with a proposal for the sponsorship of a sports training program at the high school. Providence approved the sponsorship and immediately provided medical supplies, an ice machine and the salary for a trainer in all three sports seasons. They also agreed to pay for a paramedic team at all home football games.

“We view ourselves (Providence) as a community partner,” said Providence Chief Executive James Arp. “Part of our mission is to reach out to people and their healing needs and this fills a need that was clearly identified.”

In 2003, Providence continued their support of the training program by continuing to provide medical supplies, as well as purchasing portable taping tables that are used at away games and off-site practices. They also donated three hospital gurneys that are used as taping tables in the training room and another whirlpool that will be used in the new baseball batting facility when it is completed.

In 2004 Providence took their support a step further by paying the majority of the costs needed to remodel the training room and equip it with plumbing and electrical outlets. Dr. Jon Durkan, the HRV Booster Club, Tim Foley Physical Therapy and Columbia Gorge Physical Therapy donated the rest of the money needed for the project, while contractor Tim Sweeney of Hood River Construction waived his fee for the work done.

To complete the remodeling, the school’s engineering group installed light panels and painted the walls. Students Jamie Abbott, Megan Flem, Kayla Monahan and Rochelle Friend added final touches by painting art and inspirational quotes on the walls. Finally, Leslie Moon and the Hood River Sports Club donated stationary bikes for the room and the equipment cabinet, now fully equipped thanks to Providence, was donated by Hospice of the Gorge.

In all, Arp estimates the hospital’s annual contribution to the program at about $15,000; A contribution that, Arp says, Providence will continue to make as long as there is a need.

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