By Rob Kiser
Two of the biggest assets for Piqua High School athletes are not often thought about until they are needed.
But, Katie Smith, ATC (Athletic Trainer Certified) and athletic trainer Erin Schmerge’s talents are no longer a secret after an event that took place at the Division II regional track and field meet at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field last May.
That’s when an athlete from Northwestern Schools needed to be revived with the help of Schmerge, Smith and a nurse at the meet. The boy was taken to Nationwide Hospital in Columbus where he received a pacemaker.
“You never want to be in that situation (a life and death situation)” Smith said. “But, we have a plan in place. Erin (Schmerge) reacted very quickly to that situation. I just got in on the tail end of it.”
Schmerge, a Premier Health Athletic Trainer, was honored by the National Athletic Trainers Association for her actions in saving the boy’s life.
“Like Katie (Smith) said, you never want to be in that situation,” Schmerge said. “But, it is a situation we have been trained for.”
Piqua athletic director Chip Hare said it is just an example of how blessed Piqua student athletes are to have Smith and Schmerge.
“First, something like that (saving a person’s life) doesn’t happen by accident,” Hare said. “There has to be a plan in place. We are very fortunate to have Katie (Smith) and have Erin (Schmerge) through our partnership with Premier Health. We have had Katie (Smith) since 2001 and we are fortunate enough to have had Erin for several years. Katie and Erin work to together like hand and glove.”
Smith began her athletic training career in high school as a student trainer. She has a bachelor’s degree from Wright State and master’s degree from the University of Dayton.
“I realized I wasn’t going to be an athlete forever,” Smith said. “So, I started student training in high school. I came to Piqua in 2001 and 17 years later, here I am.”
She was one the sidelines when the Piqua football team won the Division II state championship and worked with state champion athletes in Brandon Saine and Ike Karn.
“I was here for the state championship and have worked with state championship athletes,” Smith said. “I love my job. I have gotten to know a lot of kids over the years. Now, it is becoming where I get to know other members of the family. Erin (Schmerge) has been here for several years and she has been a huge asset for us.”
Schmerge, a Botkins native, said it wasn’t until late in her senior year she made a decision to go into athletic training. She has a bachelor’s from Wright State University as well.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “One of my friends was going into athletic training in college. She was telling me about it and I said, ‘that is what I want to do.’ I love every minute of it. It is something different every day. You never know what you are going to be doing.”
Hare said Piqua athletes are very blessed to have two such talented athletic trainers.
“First, there aren’t very many schools where an athletic trainer is also a teacher like Katie (Smith) is,” Hare said. “We looked and I think there are only a handful of those schools in Ohio that are in that situation. And there aren’t a lot of schools that have two athletic trainers like we do.
“Parents need to be able to trust the advice they are getting on their child’s injuries. So, that is why it is important to have two trainers like Katie (Smith) and Erin (Schmerge). And God forbid a situation like last May ever happens again, but if it does we know they are prepared to handle the situation.”
And that is no longer a secret.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.