As parents, we tend to worry about the “what if” when it comes to our children. As Tattnall parents, that worry is practically non-existent when it comes to sports and the possible injuries that accompany extracurricular activities. By definition, athletic trainers are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. It just so happens that for almost 16 years now, TSA has been blessed with the best athletic trainer and Director of Sports Medicine, Jody Burnett.
A graduate of Georgia Southern and Troy University, Burnett has been a national and state certified Athletic Trainer since 1997. In 2001, Jody accepted the position of Athletic Trainer and Director of Sports Medicine and has since built the program into the only one of its kind in the Middle Georgia area. “Our athletic training room is fully functional, and our athletes reap the benefits of having on site access to multiple types of therapeutic exercise and all current types of modalities,” remarked Burnett. Not only do Tattnall student athletes benefit from a state of the art facility, they are cared for by a fully credentialed individual who has a vested interest in their recovery. “If our athletes incur injuries, I take care of them from start to finish. We handle the rehabilitation from emergent care to pre-op and post-op services,” stated Burnett. Jody, and his team of student trainers, develop and execute a plan of recovery tailored to that individual. “At a typical clinic, physical therapists are limited to only treating the injury and not the entire athlete. So if you injure your leg during a fall sports season, a clinical therapist would work solely on your knee injury without continuing strength training for the rest of the body. So, the likelihood of being adequately prepared for the rigors of your spring sport may be compromised. The athlete’s body may not be completely acclimated which may increase the chances of another injury elsewhere in the body,” stated Burnett.
Every Tattnall parent who has worked with Jody Burnett can testify to his exceptional abilities. In the fall of 2015, Matt Blair, a sophomore football player tore his ACL during a B-team football game. Jody and his team of student athletic trainers from TSA and local colleges were able to rehabilitate Blair’s injured knee while also continuing to work on strength training for the upcoming baseball season. “I really can’t imagine how he could be more competent or effective in the work he does at TSA. An injury like Matthew sustained can be quite traumatic, not only physically, but also emotionally. The amount of time, energy, and passion that Jody has invested in our son’s healing, recovery, and rehab has been unbelievable. Jody is always available, and he has worked on weekends and during holiday breaks from school making sure Matthew had what he needed and was doing what he needed to do to give him the best chance to recover as quickly as possible. What Jody and his college interns, under his guidance, have done for Matthew is remarkable,” remarked Matt’s father, Bill Blair.
But parents are not alone when it comes to praising Burnett. “He’s a motivator for our kids who is extremely in tune with their health and well being. He’s the type of athletic trainer who will say, “I can’t do this for you, but I will do it with you,” described Head Baseball Coach, Joey Hiller. “Our kids can come to him to get an individualized strength, flexibility, and nutritional program, and he sets the example for them. He’s the hardest working person in the weight room,” said Hiller. “As a coach at Tattnall, you never have to worry about one of your players being injured in another sport,” added Hiller.
The Sports Medicine program at Tattnall has also made a significant impact on those who have served as student athletic trainers over the years. “Several of our former student AT’s have gone on to pursue a career in the medical field and have had tremendous success. I know of several who are now AT’s, physician’s assistants, EMT’s, and nurses,” stated Burnett. Lana Earley Leifels ‘07, who currently works as a Physician Extender/Athletic Trainer at Georgia Sports Medicine in Covington, served as a student AT for almost three years under Burnett and described the passion he possesses for his profession as one of his most influential qualities. “Jody instilled in me the love of athletic training. Not many people will tell you, ‘If I won the lottery today, I would still show up at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow for work,’ but Jody would. I have never forgotten that remark. Jody prepared me for my bachelors in athletic training at Georgia College, and when I wanted to go to grad school, he made a phone call to the head athletic trainer at Troy University. I was blessed to be able to attend Troy University to receive my Masters Degree. I was able to work with the same influential people Jody worked with years prior. I still call Jody when I have seen a rare injury, or when I have used something he taught me. I will always look up to Jody for the knowledge he instilled in me during my years at Tattnall, and how he pushed me to be the very best athletic trainer I can be,” stated Leifels.
The impact that Burnett has made on the Tattnall Square Academy Sports Medicine program has been as immeasurable as the amount of appreciation the Tattnall community has for Burnett.
In honor of National Athletic Training Month, we would like to publicly thank Jody Burnett for all that he has done for our Tattnall Family.