Morse High School athletic trainer Santana Wilson, far right, checks on an athlete during a wrestling meet in Bath. Wilson, along with Brunswick High School trainer Don Crane, is continuing to work with athletes on staying physically fit after the spring high school sports season was canceled due to COVID-19. (Submitted photo)

Don Crane has gone from packed weeks, as many as 80 hours per, to sitting by the window with his dog as he waits for students, coaches, or parents to contact him. 

At Brunswick High School, Crane works as the athletic trainer. In preseasons, Crane works countless hours, then during the season it drops to around 40 per week. He’s busy taking care of athlete’s injuries, nagging or serious, sprains to rehab. 

Now, Crane has had to adjust his schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled in-person school and thus sports in mid-March. 

“Initially with this we were not sure what was going on and the teachers were thrown into online education,” Crane said. “I sat back the first week and tried to figure out what was going on, I was also on vacation.”

Crane started to receive emails from colleagues, parents, students, coaches and everyone in between asking about what could be done. He saw that other trainers were using online video conference apps like Zoom and Google Classrooms, so Crane did the same. 

“Brunswick was able to help me out and set up a Google Classroom,” Crane said. “I invited all the kids and faculty, and what I’ve done is set up daily workouts with the kids, running, nutrition, injury prevention and other topics with the kids. I can give them a phone call and help with an ankle injury or something.”

Crane is also an employee of Mid Coast Hospital, as is Santana Wilson, the athletic trainer at Morse High School. 

Both are working at the hospital nowadays as screeners at the front doors. They ask introductory questions to patients entering the hospital. 

“Don and I have been screening doors together actually,” Wilson said. ‘I think that will continue to happen  for the foreseeable future. We may also be asked to support the hospital labor pool in whatever capacity they need help. Time will tell! Lots of uncertainties, but everyone is very positive, and patient-provider safety is the most important thing when it comes to Mid Coast.”

Wilson went through a similar process when it came to figuring out how to adjust her practice with the new landscape everyone faces in the present day. 

“It’s kind of like the five stages of grief,” Wilson said. “At first it was like, ‘there’s no way they’re going to cancel.’ Then they did cancel, and now I am trying to reach acceptance.

“What I am trying to do is to put resources out for kids. Don had a great idea with the Google Classrooms and I got in contact with the AD and with the IT department and I got in the Google Classrooms in RSU 1 with coaches, teachers, students and parents where I could share a bunch of information on anything about safety, equipment, athletic safety, just virtually.”

As teachers and administrators across the country try and reach out to every student they have, problems have arisen. 

Some students don’t have the same technological capabilities as others, some don’t have computers at home but do have phones. Crane has found that he’s been able to connect with many of his athletes through Google Classrooms, email and more. 

“Usually it’s one-on-one in the afternoon, 2:30-4 or 5, sitting by the computer and being there if anyone needs to call in,” Crane said. “Sometimes students call in just to say hi which is very nice. There’s a sort of withdrawal you’re going through. I find myself looking out the window with my dog and you kind of miss it all.”

Crane has been trying to be flexible with his athletes as many of their usual routines have been thrown out the window by the pandemic. 

“High school students, I joke with them that people are telling you when to do everything in school and now it’s like going to college and people struggle,” Crane said. “I think it’s slowly picked up where I am having more and more students sign up and taking a look. It’s been a slow process and kids are still struggling figuring this all out. Here the kids are sitting in front of a computer all day long and now I am asking them to call in.”

Wilson has described her transition to online training as smooth, using email and social media to help connect with athletes. 

“We put a challenge out there for kids to just stay active so kids have been sharing videos of their workouts and our AD will then share those via social media,” Wilson said. “We have been trying to look each other up and sharing pictures and quotes of our seniors. Just trying to stay connected the best we can. It’s nice we can use the platforms like zoom and things like that. I have mostly been communicating via email. It’s kind of nice to talk to a coach, kid and parent all at once via email.”

Both Crane and Wilson hope that they can get back to helping athletes in person in the fall, but for now are finding the positives in their new ways of training. 

“The transition was smooth, people were positive on the information I was providing and people were still able to reach out,” Wilson said. “For me, it’s kind of the same. If I am in the office, maybe I see a kid, maybe I don’t. For me it’s been a lot of the same but we are filling roles that are purely pandemic. I certainly hope, given what the MPA, DOE, CDC what they’re saying, that we can make a safe environment for these kids to compete. Until them I am going to keep doing what I am doing, challenge them, and keep them going. We are going to continue to celebrate the kids.”

“The nice thing with mine is that they find things easily, they get notifications,” Crane said. “I tell them that my phone is on 24/7 and to never hesitate to give me a call. That’s the way I try to look at it; you’re on the clock but I’m not on the clock. I’ve reached out to their parents on Facebook and sharing what I am doing, thinking of activities to do as a family, things like that.”

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