A rare pair

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lynn Scheevel, left, and Afton Wacholz are athletic trainers for Albert Lea High School. According to the women, it is rare for a school to have more than one. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

With concussion concerns in sports on the rise, the roles of two women in the community are become ever more important.

Afton Wacholz and Lynn Scheevel can be found on the sidelines of every varsity home game at Albert Lea High School, not as players or parents, but as athletic trainers who take on the role of caring for the students.

Afton Wacholz, one of the athletic trainers for Albert Lea High School sports, wraps an ankle before girls’ soccer practice on Monday.

Scheevel said what they do allows coaches to be coaches, parents to be parents and players to be players.

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“We take care of the injury,” Scheevel said.

Their job isn’t to just sit on the sidelines and enjoy a sporting contest nearly every night of the week. Wacholz and Scheevel work to prevent injuries, provide immediate emergency care and help an athlete through the rehabilitation process if they sustain an injury.

“We do things behind the scenes, but it’s not really until something happens that you see our impact,” Wacholz said. “It’s hard to explain to somebody why we’re so important.”

Some schools, like Alden-Conger and Glenville-Emmons, don’t even have an athletic trainer and just have volunteer emergency personnel helping out. To give the students better care and keep them from making urgent care visits for little things, Wacholz visits each one, once a week, to meet with any athletes that have concerns.

“We’re the only school in the Big Nine and one of the very few in southern Minnesota that has two athletic trainers,” Wacholz said. “We’re very lucky.”

Wacholz and Scheevel are available to these schools because of time donation from the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.

The women noted that athletic training is a “booming profession.”

“In Texas, it’s mandatory,” Scheevel said.

Wacholz said people are pushing for it to be mandatory everywhere.

“That tells you how important something is when they’re pushing for it to go nationwide,” Scheevel added.

To be athletic trainers, the women had to complete a four-year degree, pass a national certification exam and regularly complete continuing education hours to stay up on the latest trends and techniques.

Still, some people get the wrong idea about what athletic trainers do.

“The common mistake is that we hang out in the weight room,” Scheevel said. “We aren’t personal trainers.”

Sharing the same birthday, Sept. 29, the two trainers are 11 years apart in age and said they have been able to learn from each other’s experience and techniques in order to better help the athletes.

They both said they really enjoy their jobs because they are able to help and also get to know the students and build long-lasting relationships.

“Whether it’s the clinic or whether it’s out here, seeing people get back to doing what they love to do and knowing that you had a hand in helping do that never gets old,” Scheevel said.

Both Scheevel and Wacholz got into the profession because they had backgrounds in sports and had built relationships with athletic trainers who inspired them to do what they do. In the sports atmosphere, Wacholz was an athlete in high school and Scheevel’s dad was a coach. Ironically enough, Scheevel was Wacholz’s athletic trainer when she was in high school.

About the same time Wacholz was going to graduate with her college degree and was looking for a job as an athletic trainer, Scheevel was looking to relocate.

She said it was because she was overwhelmed and needed help. Instead of relocating, Scheevel ended up getting another position opened up and stayed in Albert Lea to work side-by-side with Wacholz.

“It was easy,” Scheevel said. “I realized I had a great spot right here.”

Afton Wacholz

Age: 29

Address: 18672 U.S. Highway 69

Family: husband, Phil; daughter, Nevaeh, 5; son, Brecken, 3

Livelihood: certified athletic trainer

Interesting fact: Wacholz was named after a Family Feud contestant.


Lynn Scheevel

Age: 41

Address: 820 S. Fourth Ave.

Family: mom, dad, sister, adopting a newborn in a couple weeks

Livelihood: certified athletic trainer, physical therapist assistant, emergency medical technician

Interesting fact: Scheevel does triathlons as a hobby.