Geniqua Harris, a Seattle Children’s athletic trainer in the Tukwila School District at Foster High School, has spent the last four years on the sidelines of practices and sporting events helping to keep young athletes in the game and injury-free.
“I’ve seen many athletes grow up right before my eyes,” said Harris. “I’ve been working with them since they were small ninth graders. Now, they’re graduating. It’s really rewarding to hear the kids and coaches tell me how much they appreciate me. I’m just doing my job, but I know it means a lot them.”
Throughout the years, Harris has seen a lot of injuries, from common sprains and strains to devastating season-ending fractures. She’s worked with athletes from a wide variety of sports and has helped them get back to the field as safely and quickly as possible after injury. However, there has always been one thing she’s always needed more of: time – time to serve more athletes, tape more ankles and help more kids through rehabilitation.
The Seattle Seahawks and NFL Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant toto expand coverage of certified athletic trainers during sporting events and activities in Renton and Tukwila school districts, including Foster High School, Hazen High School, Lindbergh High School and Renton High School. More coverage, for Harris, means she’ll have more hours on the sidelines with the athletes she serves.
“Athletic trainers play a key role in the health and safety of athletes; this grant will help us be there when they need us most,” said Andrew Little, manager of the Athletic Trainers Program at Seattle Children’s. “Whether that’s for a sprained ankle, concussion evaluation, or bandage and a kind word, it brings families and athletes comfort knowing we’re there for them. What an amazing gesture of commitment from the NFL and Seattle Seahawks to our student-athletes.”
Eight years ago, the Athletic Trainers Program at Seattle Children’s launched with only seven athletic trainers serving Seattle Public Schools. Today, the Athletic Trainers Program has more than quadrupled in size, and consists of 37 athletic trainers who provide on-site athletic training services to 32 public and private schools across the Puget Sound.
“I’m happy and incredibly grateful,” said Harris. “Sometimes gifts are tangible. They are things you can hold onto and touch, but in this case it’s a gift of time. It allows me to help these young athletes more. I can tell them I’m here for them.”