Salathe adapting to changing needs of student athletes

Athletic Trainers are on the front line of physical and mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Sanford Health Athletic Trainer Sam Salathe is one of many workers in the sports realm who has been forced to adapt to the changing schedule caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.

Salathe was a 2012 graduate of Perham high school before getting her degree at the University of Minnesota-Morris. She was also a four-year member of the Cougars’ swimming and diving team before beginning her training career back in Perham.

Salathe is currently one of two contracted athletic trainers at Detroit Lakes high school and is doing double duty as the second spot is looking to be filled.

A typical day starts around 1 p.m. with administrative work and seeing a few kids by appointment before the mad rush after school getting kids ready with taping, evaluating injuries and being available for all of the practices and games.

With that currently on hold, Salathe’s job has certainly changed.


“It’s given me time to catch up on those administrative pieces, paperwork, making sure our policies and procedures are up to date and emergency action plans for each venue,” she said. “I do have some athletes that will contact me to ask questions about aches and pains while they’re still training or some rehabs we were working on prior to all this.”

Sam Salathe is the athletic trainer at Detroit Lakes high school. Submitted photo

Salathe was working at the school initially giving the training room and adjoining areas a good clean with everything going on but upon completion has been working remote from home.

“It’s weird,” she said. “As long as some of those days are, with multiple games per day and practices, I miss those busy, busy days. It can be chaotic sometimes and you’re just trying to get through them but now I’m missing the hectic lifestyle.”

A big part of Salathe’s job that is relatively unseen is working with athletes on the mental side of competing. That has morphed to dealing with the current uncertainty also.

“The switch for them is stressful too and the worry of am I going to get to play again,” said Salathe. “It’s kind of just listening, which is a big part of my job anyway. People always know we tape ankles and help them get back from injuries, but a lot of the time in my training room is spent listening to kids. I’ve had some kids call and it’s been some chats to vent, feel better and get some things out and let’s go from there.”

A special manner is needed for upperclassmen and current student athletes who may have their careers cut short.


“There were seniors in my room that were super pumped for their seasons and what they were going to accomplish this year,” said Salathe. “My heart goes out to them to have that cut short and just sitting here waiting to see if they’re going to get to do it or not.”

Trainers are also being used in other ways in the community. Sanford Health has adapted and found ways to utilize the special skill sets athletic trainers have in the public sector. Some trainers are currently front line screeners at clinics and hospitals.

“That’s a way some of us are putting our skills to use and adapting to do what we need to do to help everybody,” said Salathe.

Getting back to working full-time with high school student athletes is on hold awaiting updates from the governor along with the Minnesota State High School League.

Salathe is open to communicating with current students and has recently started a new Laker Sports Medicine Twitter feed that can be found @DLHSSportsMed . Salathe shares nutritional information and tips and wants to use the feed as a place to share information and communicate with athletes.

“I miss my student athletes and want to continue to be a resource for them for both their physical and mental health as we all go through this phase where we are part of a greater cause,” she said. “It is a great way for student-athletes and parents to reach me.”

Salathe is also available via email:


Sam Salathe is the athletic trainer at Detroit Lakes high school. Submitted photo

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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