Local physical therapy clinic Physio Performance and the Rapid City Area Schools are collaborating to expand the scope of strength and injury prevention training available to student-athletes.
The clinic will provide the service at no cost to the schools through an addendum to the district's sports medicine agreement that school board directors approved last month.
"This will not be like joining a gym," said David Janak, assistant superintendent of support services. "It is a lot more specific and a lot more focused."
The Black Hills Orthopedic & Spine Center and the Black Hills Surgical Hospital have acted as the district's main sports medicine provider for more than 20 years, also at no cost. Staff from both have primarily attended to injured players at games and practices, a service that schools are required to provide by state law.
Representatives from both offices said at last month's school board meeting that they sought business with with Physio Performance at the behest of school officials who had long expressed a desire for more comprehensive training.
The new agreement will see Physio Performance and school coaching staff working alongside one another on school grounds. Officials from both the company and the school athletic department met privately last month to discuss the new agreement's implementation.
During last month's meeting, Dr. Daniel Jensen, owner of Physio Performance, said that weight, strength, injury recovery and injury-prevention training will be among the services offered to interested students. He went on to say that research suggests that preventative training reduces the likelihood that an athlete sustains an injury and increases recovery rates.
Student-athletes already have the option to undergo strength and conditioning training in classes offered by several city schools. The new program, school officials said, will differ in that training is structured around long-term goals that coaching and clinic staff will develop for each team.
"We’re going to give data feedback to coaches and athletes. I think its definitely something that will help with joint stability, muscle endurance," said Jared Vasquez, athletics director at Stevens High School. "I think it’s really going to help the student athletes' confidence as well as their abilities."
School board members and administrators said during last month's meeting that the program will help to make Rapid City school athletics more competitive with other districts, such as Sioux Falls, that already incorporate such training.
Participation will be voluntary and cost students about $10 a month. Janak said that schools are currently registering students for a summer training course that will begin in June.
He added that the schools are looking at booster clubs and other fundraising mechanisms as a means of providing financial assistance to students interested in the service.
Clinic staff will be subject to background checks before they are authorized to work with students.