The Venice High School Sports Medicine Team is one of the most active programs on the Venice High School campus. Together, a team of student athletic trainers and a Certified Athletic Trainer, care for over 400 athletes a year on 23 athletic teams. The Venice High School Sports Medicine team was established in 2004 by Kirsten Farrell, ATC. The team began as just a few students assisting Kirsten at various practices and games, especially football. Over the years, the program has exponentially grown, and in recent years, the team has over 40 student athletic trainers. All of the trainers are CPR/ First Aid/AED certified and trained in techniques such as taping, stretching, and rehabilitative exercises. Students on the Sports Medicine Team at Venice work games and practice for all of the sports provided at Venice High School.
Although the program at Venice is provided with a certified athletic trainer for 10 hours a week by the West Coast Sports Medicine, a non-profit organization for athletic medicine, the Venice program does not receive funding from the school district. Because of the lack of sufficient funding for the program, Kirsten Farrell, as well as the student trainers, have learned to be creative with resources. Since our unique program is relatively rare to most public schools in Los Angeles, fundraising is a vital part in providing the necessary materials for our athletes as well as setting off costs for travel and team competition fees. We plan all fundraising events independently because we are not funded by Venice High School or Los Angeles Unified.
Over the past fourteen years, the program’s demands have increased in that its students are fully trained for both daily and emergency situations that they may encounter. Students must learn both basic and advanced concepts and applications used by Certified Athletic Trainers. These include knowledge of anatomy and physiology, evaluation of an injury, prevention and treatment of an injury, emergency protocol, and professionalism in a workplace. The students are also required to learn and master practical applications including basic first aid, taping, massaging, splinting, icing, and rehabilitation.
Along with working for the teams at Venice, the Sports Medicine Team works a variety of events such as fundraisers, school functions, football camp for high school students, and competitions. The team participates in various competitions each year, one locally for the state of California at St. Francis High School, HOSA – Future Health Professionals and a national competition held online. The students on the Sports Medicine Team give back to the community by volunteering medical aid at community events and a Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser held during the month of October every year.
The Sports Medicine Team provides excellent opportunities and medical insight for the students involved. The program introduces knowledge that is useful in numerous careers such as athletic training, massage therapy, emergency medical attendants and many more. Our student population consists of 46% English language learners and 64% students receive free or reduced meal plans. With a mere 73% graduation rate, it is programs such as the Sports Medicine Team that inspire and assist students in discovering their interests and passions that otherwise may not have been offered to them.
In 2015, Venice High School was named a National Safe Sport School – First Team Division by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Venice is the only school in Los Angeles Unified with that distinction. In 2019, Venice again received the award for another three years. In 2018, our teacher, Kirsten Farrell was recognized as a California State Teacher of the Year by the California Department of Education.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the program applied for a Career Technical Education Incentive Grant that allowed an Anatomage Table and Alter-G Treadmill to be added to the classroom facility.
Many students that were on the team at Venice have gone on to pursue an education in sports medicine at various universities across California and the United States: Brown University, Boston University, The University of Utah, Northeastern University, University of California – Berkley, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, California State University – Long Beach, Northridge, Monterey Bay, University of Southern California. The team has a unique impact on all of its members, teaching the students hard work, responsibility, communication and medical skills, as well as giving the students a sense of community and team work. Currently program graduates are working as certified athletic trainers, medical doctors, physical therapists, nurses and paramedics.