Meritus Athletic Training Program continues to help student athletes get back in the game

02 April 2024- Tracy Kloos said it’s tough as a parent to watch your child play a sport knowing there’s a chance she might get hurt. 

But when that situation actually happened to Kloos’ daughter, Mackenzie, she said she was fortunate to have Meghan Gray there to care for her daughter.

Gray is an athletic trainer with Meritus Health, which is contracted by Washington County Public Schools to work with its student athletes and coaches throughout the school year. 

“Had I not had Meghan there, Mackenzie would have had her season end at that point,” Kloos said.

The point guard dislocated her shoulder twice in two separate games playing for the Williamsport High School Wildcats.

What is the Meritus Athletic Trainer Program?

The Meritus athletic trainers undergo expert training, are board certified and licensed. As part of the Meritus team, they offer coordination of care that ensures student athletes get the healthcare they need when they need it.

As part of the largest healthcare provider in the region, the trainers give immediate care to students at WCPS high schools, said Amber Shatzer-Moats, the athletic training program supervisor.

But don’t let the program’s name fool you. Shatzer-Moats said she has worked on band and theater students, too.

“We are responsible for anyone in the school who might need us,” she said. 

The trainers also provide rehabilitation and preventative care, including baseline testing.

“We do a lot of education and sharing of information with parents,” Shatzer-Moats said. “But our goal is to get the students back on the field. We are here to support them.”

The athletic trainers are supported by Meritus Sports Medicine and Geoffrey Sanyi, D.O., and there are plans to expand the program. Meritus Sports Medicine is set to open a new location providing athletic training and rehabilitation at the Valley Mall later this spring.

How did the athletic trainer help Mackenzie?

The team was facing Brunswick High School at home when Mackenzie was fighting for a jump ball against another player. Her arm got caught in the tangle, Gray said.

“I could see it pop out from across the court,” she said. “But she didn’t completely dislocate it. She partially subluxed it; where it came out slightly and popped right back into place.”

Play was stopped, and Kloos said Gray took Mackenzie to the training room and checked her range of motion and put her through other tests.

Though she was still able to move her arm, Gray and Mackenzie’s coach decided it was best for the senior to sit out the rest of the game. In fact, she didn’t play or practice for nearly a week. And when she did practice, Kloos said Gray was there watching and evaluating her.

When Mackenzie was cleared to play again, Gray had a specific plan for playing time and watched Mackenzie while she was on the court.

But then came the game at North Hagerstown High School. Mackenzie’s shoulder was hit off a screen and fully dislocated this time. Gray was at that game and took Mackenzie off the court to check her.

What followed was two hard weeks of rehabilitation and treatments after school to get her ready to return to play for her team’s playoffs. Mackenzie worked with Gray at Williamsport High after classes.

Gray put her through a multitude of different range of motion stretching and exercises to return her motion to normal and to build her strength in that shoulder. Kloos sat out several games but slowly began to take part in drills during practices and then warming up with her team for games.

“She needs to trust her own body again and know that she can do it, know what it feels like to do the things she requires of her shoulder,” Gray said.​

What mattered most?

The goal, Kloos said, was to make sure Mackenzie could play her last regular-season game on Senior Night, again against North High. 

Mackenzie did play, although it was for only about five minutes and with a well-taped shoulder. And again, Gray was there to keep an eye on her shoulder.

With a record of 15-7, the Wildcats made it into the MPSSAA Regional Semi-Finals against Middletown High School. 

Kloos played a large portion of her final playoff game, but unfortunately, they lost in that round. But Mackenzie was invited to play in the 2024 Roundball Classic’s Girls Shooting Stars Game on March 23. She was the only girls’ player from Williamsport invited.

The plan is for Mackenzie to see a specialist to examine her shoulder, now that the season is over.

“As a parent, it’s really hard,” Kloos said. “I had all the trust in the world in Meghan in all she had done for Mackenzie. She missed a chunk of games, but she got to play in the ones that mattered to her.”To learn more about Meritus Sports Medicine, visit www.meritushealth.com/SportsMedicine.