Kickoff to a new season is just around the corner for football players across the state. It's a physical game and injuries are inevitable, but doctors in Mitchell are going the extra mile to keep players safe.
Football practice is intense; with the sprints, blocking drills, and the dreaded up and downs. But these are the days and hours that will make or break football players come fall. Players like Mitchell High's Riley Heck.
"You know he's been working hard this summer in the weight room and I think he's ready to play some football." Said Mark Heck, Riley's father.
As a parent, Mark Heck has to watch his son from the stands, knowing that on any play or any hit, injuries can rear their ugly head.
"You know I don't like to think about it, I know when I was playing my mom was always worried about it and having to go through it as a parent you just hope nothing ever happens but in the back of your mind you know that something could, but I don't think about it." Said Heck.
Luckily for the Mitchell Kernels they've got the best of care available right there on the sidelines.
"From the sideline standpoint the big things that we're gonna be looking for are the traumatic injuries that we can take care of on the sidelines, most things are your minor contusions and strains and they can get back to play but we will make sure there aren't any significant injuries that will require some time away and will get them diagnosed appropriately and hopefully get them back to play in a functional manner." Said Dr. John Swisher with the Avera Queen of Peace Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Team.
All season long Dr. Swisher will be integral part of the Kernel football team. He'll be there on the sidelines, rain or shine, and even when the team travels. So parents can rest easy when their athletes take the field.
"It gives you a good peace of mind that if something does happen he's on the sideline and he's there to take care of them." Said Heck.
"Especially when you get to some of the smaller communities they're not going to necessarily have a physician on the sideline it's definitely a benefit to have us there especially working with the athletic training department and making sure athletes are getting good quality diverse care that they need." Said Dr. Swisher.
A physician's eye is critical under the Friday night lights, but Dr. Swisher is taking things even further. Avera Queen of Peace Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is opening clinic hours for athletes on Saturday throughout the football season. This way if a injury swells up after the game or overnight, they can be seen right away and their care is expedited.
"Athletes as you know they want to get back to play as soon as possible and if you have your Friday night game and they have an injury a lot of times they have to wait until Monday morning to get in and be seen but we're giving them an opportunity to get in on a Saturday where we can hopefully get them those answers they're looking for, get a diagnostic set up and get them an answer a little bit faster to help them get back to play hopefully in a safe and functional manner or to get them referred on for a possible surgery if needed." Said Dr. Swisher.
With 22 young men constantly crashing into one another for 60 minutes, injuries are inevitable. But for at least nine games every fall, the possibility of getting hurt is a thought that's muffled by the cheers and the glory of the gridiron
"As a player you realize the risk and you just go out and play your best." Said Heck.
The sports clinic hours run every Saturday morning from 9am to 11am and is open for all high school fall sports athletes in the Mitchell Area. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.