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September 8, 2016

Berlin Receives Safe Sports School Award

The Berlin School District and ThedaCare have received national recognition for the care provided to student athletes.

ThedaCare, High School Recognized for Athletic Safety Programs

The Berlin School District and ThedaCare have received national recognition for the care provided to student athletes.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association awarded its Safe Sports School Award to Berlin High School, which has its athletic training services provided by ThedaCare. The award recognizes secondary schools that provide safe environments for student athletes and reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention and treatment.

The award shows the commitment ThedaCare and the Berlin schools have to keeping athletes safe, said Melissa Johnston, an athletic trainer with ThedaCare who has worked at Berlin High School since 2003. Since she started at the school, Johnston has seen her role grow. She went from providing minimal event coverage and visited the school one day a week to providing daily coverage at Berlin High School, covering all home sports competitions, traveling for playoff games and traveling for all high-risk contact sports, such as football.

“We take pride in keeping our athletes safe in all aspects of playing sports,” Johnston said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority. The staff, community, and families that I work with play a huge part and support me in keeping our kids safe. We have a well-rounded concussion program in place at the school and support from our concussion providers on not returning kids back to soon.”

As part of the school’s program, all high school athletes receive concussion testing before they start playing and have any injuries evaluated and treated.

Berlin High School received the award’s first team designation – the eighth school in Wisconsin to receive that status. Joe Brandl, assistant principal and athletic director at Berlin High School, said the award is a testament to the work done by Johnston and ThedaCare.

“Johnston works her tail off to ensure the safety of our student-athletes and does a wonderful job no matter the issue or the time of day,” he said. “This proves that the policies and procedures we follow with a joint effort are based on best practices. We are excited for another strong year for our student-athletes and know that Melissa is a huge factor in their health and well-being.”

In order to achieve Safe Sport School status, as Berlin School District did, athletic programs must do the following:

  • Create a positive athletic health care administrative system
  • Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations
  • Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities
  • Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment
  • Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes
  • Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions
  • Provide or facilitate injury intervention
  • Create and rehearse a venue-specific Emergency Action Plan
  • Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education
  • Be sure athletes and parents are educated of the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities

The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 43,000 members of the athletic training profession. Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Visit to learn more.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.