ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – It’s that time of year when students head back to school.

For student-athletes, this also means back-to-sports.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7 News Anchor Taylor Murray takes us to football practice at Wren High School where she spoke with an athletic trainer about keeping kids safe on the field.

It’s almost time for the “High School Red Zone” where stadiums at high schools across the Upstate are packed with cheering fans.

Behind every victory is a very ‘key player’— an athletic trainer.

“We have to be there and advocate for our student-athletes, especially when they’re out there. Coaches want them to play at 100%. But, we got to make sure… that their health is a priority for us.”

Johnny Nguyen, Bon Secours Athletic Trainer at Wren HS

Johnny Nguyen is the athletic trainer at Wren High School.

He helps diagnose, treat, and prevent injuries on the team.

“We’re doing a lot more than just strengthening and conditioning. We’re not just working on their fitness. We’re going through and making sure we’re doing an injury assessment. Make sure that we cover our bases… It’s a little bit more intensive than personal training,” Nguyen said.

The Wren Golden Hurricanes football team is hard at work during their pre-season practice.

Always looking out for the team’s health & safety, Ngyuen advises coaches on when practice should be moved indoors due to weather.

“For us right now in the heat of summer, wet-bulb temperature is a big one. At a certain level of degrees they are more prone to heat illnesses,” Nguyen said.

Since athletic trainers work so closely with the team, they often catch problems before a regular clinician can.

They are able to identify when a student-athlete is not acting like themselves and can alert the coach or parent.

“Most parents want to know what’s the game plan. If it’s something going to be risking their career or risking their overall health– that’s the biggest thing. At the end of the day it’s just communication,” Nguyen said.

When a student-athlete is injured, athletic trainers play a significant role in rehabilitation.

It is up to them to decide when a player can safely return to the game.

“You have to put it in their perspective. Like hey, we need so and so to go out and play. But, if so and so can’t compete at 100% and he’s gonna go out there and fall… then is it better to put him in or do we put his back up in,” Nguyen said.

During game time, athletic trainers are on the sidelines rooting for the team and, most importantly, ready to respond if a player gets hurt.

Nguyen says the most common sports-related injuries for high school athletes are shoulder dislocations, knee injuries, concussions, and over-use injuries.

Click here to submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series.