By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
In the McNary High School varsity football team’s game with Sprague High School, junior kicker Parker Janssen took hit as he made a point-after attempt.
With one tackler in front of him and another coming over his back, Parker ended up on the ground and, within a couple of minutes, McNary’s physical trainer Jill Pallin and the physical trainer from Sprague were beginning treatments for shock. Janssen’s leg had been badly fractured.
For much of that time, McNary senior Jasmine Ernest was right next to Janssen talking him through the pain and trying to keep his focus off his leg.
“We’ve had similar situations with significant injury and the athletes have almost gone into shock. I wanted to keep him calm and focused on breathing. It was easier because we’re friends and it helped me keep his attention,” Ernest said.
In a situation that could send many adults running for cover or at least averting their eyes, Ernest projected intense focus and a sense of calm rivaling that of a Hindu cow.
“I’ve always thought it is important to have a relationship with a student before he or she gets injured, but Jasmine is like my proof of that. She knows a lot of the athletes and has an easier time engaging them,” Pallin said.
It helped that it wasn’t her first rodeo. Ernest has been assisting her mother, Pallin, since she was in seventh grade.
“It’s amazing. She reads my mind sometimes. She’s been around sports her whole life so she understands the need to hurry up and get people ready. She can also sense the timing of when she needs to get out of the coach’s way and when she can jump in,” said Pallin.
Ernest started out tagging along during her middle school years when she was completing coursework online and scheduling her own hours.
“It was really just a hobby, but now I’m thinking I might major in sports medicine, athletic training or physical therapy in college,” Ernest said.
She progressed from doling out water and picking up tips at her mother’s elbow, to taking sports medicine courses offered at McKay High School in her junior year. She and Pallin can now tag-team a minor injury.
Not long after Janssen’s injury, Celt Tanner Walker was helped to the sideline with an injured ankle. After setting him up on a table, Pallin performed the pre-wrap for a spatting, which includes taping an ankle around the outside of a cleat, and Ernest was waiting in the wing to finish the job.
“When I first started it was more like being a shadow, but then I was able to work on some of the more familiar injuries. I can grab what we need and then I can step in after she gets to an endpoint,” Ernest said.
Pallin said she’s like a second set of eyes, ears and hands that can free her up to work with other injuries as they arise.
The job has paid off in other ways, too. Ernest is appreciative of the time she gets to spend around coaches she might not otherwise encounter in her daily activities.
“When Coach (Isaac) Parker coming in, he was really receptive to the student athletic trainers and I get to watch the coaching staff interact with athletes. I like (Parker’s) tone and the way he encourages them to take things out of it that they can take away for the rest of life,” she said.
Pallin will, of course, miss her daughter when she graduates next year, but Ernest was just the first of cadre of student athletic trainers she works with each year. But, blood will always be thicker than water, and having Ernest at her side provides a window into mom’s world.
“It’s like coaching your own child and they get to understand why I like it and why I’m passionate about it, which is helping someone else get back to doing what they want to do,” Pallin said.
That’s something else Ernest has had a part in more than once, but one particular instance stands out among the rest.
“Cody Bond was one of the first athletes I got to know from his freshman year through graduation,” Ernest said. “He got hurt in the first game of his senior year with a bad ankle injury. It became this process that took the whole year and specific treatment all the way through track and field because he wanted to walk on to the Brigham Young University football team. We weren’t sure that it was going to be possible but, this year, he did it. It feels good to be part of something like that.”