Athletic Training

Shady Side Academy employs two full-time Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs), and SSA is a clinical site for the Duquesne University School of Health Sciences Athletic Training Program. Student athletic trainers from Duquesne assist our teams under the guidance of our own Certified Athletic Trainers.

All SSA students who participate in interscholastic athletics have access to our athletic training services.


Where is the athletic training room?

The athletic training room is located on the first floor of Curry Gymnasium, through the patio entrance.

When are the athletic trainers on campus?

The athletic trainers are typically on campus from 10:30 a.m. until half an hour after the final in-season practice, Monday through Friday.

What events are covered by the athletic trainers?

Coverage priorities are based on the risk of injury inherent to each sport, with collision/contact sports having first priority, followed by non-contact events. Athletic training coverage for varsity athletics occurs only during in-season dates. This includes practice coverage for most sports, all home contests and selected away contests. Athletic training coverage will include a Certified Athletic Trainer and athletic training students, when available.

When should my child see the school nurse vs. the athletic trainer?

If an injury or illness occurs during the school day, the student should report to the school nurse, who will either treat the student or refer him/her to the athletic trainers. If an injury occurs during an athletic practice or game, the student should seek out an athletic trainer.

Is there a specific rehab process for injured athletes?

If an injury is sustained and a referral to a physician is deemed unnecessary, the athletic trainers will recommend the necessary protocol for the student-athlete to return to practice as a soon as is safely possible. This plan will be communicated to the coaches.

For what types of injuries does the athletic trainer contact parents?

An athletic trainer will contact parents if any student-athlete suffers an injury that requires further medical evaluation or diagnostics (e.g. X-ray or MRI), or that causes limited mobility, impairment or significant trauma.

If my child is injured and receives treatment from a doctor, what is required to resume athletic participation?

If there is an injury/illness that requires an appointment with a physician, the student-athlete is required to obtain a written release from the treating physician before returning to participate in practices or games.

When and how can a parent contact the athletic trainers?

The athletic trainers can be reached by e-mail, office or cell phone during normal operating hours. The trainers' contact information is listed on this page.

What is the ImPACT test?

Developed by clinical experts, ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the most widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. A baseline ImPACT test is administered before any SSA student is allowed to compete in interscholastic practices or competitions. The test is administered every year for middle school students and every other year for high school students.

See the Concussion tab for more information about concussions and ImPACT testing.

What forms are needed to participate in athletics?

SSA requires all students in grades 6-12 to submit PIAA forms every year. See the Forms tab for requirements, deadlines and downloadable forms.


Required Athletic Forms

As part of the annual Family Information Update, Shady Side Academy requires all students in grades 6-12 to submit completed PIAA CIPPE Sections 1-6 athletic forms via the Magnus Health system by Aug. 1. Per PIAA rules, any students missing these forms may not participate in athletic practices or contests. The Section 6 physical form must be completed and signed by a physician after June 1 and is required for students to attend classes, regardless of whether they are playing a sport. Access your Magnus Health account by visiting the Family Information Update page (login required) on the Parent Portal of the website.

The PIAA CIPPE Section 7 (Re-Certification by Parent/Guardian) form must be turned in by students competing in winter and spring sports prior to those seasons. The parent must complete and sign the form no sooner than six weeks from the start of the season.

The PIAA CIPPE Section 8 (Re-Certification by Physician) form must be turned in by any student who required medical treatment from a physician after submitting Sections 1-6. A physician must complete and sign the form giving general or limited clearance for the student to participate in athletics.


Concussion and second-impact syndrome are two potentially life-threatening risks to which student-athletes are exposed. It is estimated that concussions are suffered by one in five high school football players each season, which, if accurate, means that more than 250,000 concussions occur annually at that level alone. Some mild concussions, the so-called "bell rung" or "ding" with no loss of consciousness or post-traumatic amnesia, may go unrecognized by coaches, trainers, teammates or team physicians.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury that:

  • Is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body.
  • Can change the way a student’s brain normally works.
  • Can occur during practices and/or contests in any sport.
  • Can happen even if a student has not lost consciousness.
  • Can be serious even if a student has just been “dinged” or “had their bell rung.”

All concussions are serious. A concussion can affect a student’s ability to do schoolwork and other activities (such as playing video games, working on a computer, studying, driving or exercising). Most students with a concussion get better, but it is important to give the concussed student’s brain time to heal.

Concussion 101

Concussion symptoms

Concussions cannot be seen; however, in a potentially concussed student, one or more of the symptoms listed below may become apparent and/or that the student “doesn’t feel right” soon after, a few days after or even weeks after the injury.

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Bothered by light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion

The Colorado Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee has developed basic guidelines for the management of concussion in sports. These guidelines have reasonable application to clearance guidelines in the pre-participation physical evaluation. Although these guidelines may assist in clinical decision-making, they are not absolute and should not be substituted for the clinical judgment of the evaluating physician. If there are any questions as to the severity of past head trauma, or if the trauma required intracranial surgery, clearance should be deferred until further records are obtained and/or neurosurgical evaluation is performed.

No athlete should be allowed to return to contact sports until proper medical evaluation is obtained. Attending medical staff should not allow a player to resume participation in sports until the injured student-athlete has fully recovered from his/her post-concussive symptoms. Any player who shows signs, symptoms or behaviors associated with a concussion must be removed from the practice/game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.

With regard to injury prevention in football, coaches, athletic trainers and medical personnel should strive to help educate the player in proper tackling techniques so that these injuries can be minimized. Neck strengthening exercises are important in preventing rapid acceleration/deceleration injuries that can occur without a direct blow to the head. In addition, proper equipment and maintenance, including adequate helmet fit (inflation of air bladder in helmet) and shock-absorbing mouthpieces, are essential in preventing concussions. All medical personnel need to be reminded that all unconscious student-athletes should be suspected of a cervical-spine injury until proven otherwise. Special care to the cervical spine should always be used in transporting an unconscious player.

ImPACT testing

Developed by clinical experts who pioneered the field, ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the most widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT provides trained clinicians with neurocognitive assessment tools and services that have been medically accepted as state-of-the-art best practices – as part of determining safe return to play decisions. Learn more about the ImPACT test.

A baseline ImPACT test is administered before any SSA student is allowed to compete in interscholastic practices or competitions. Based upon experts’ recommendations, the test is administered every year for middle school students and every other year for high school students. If the student has suffered a concussion since the most recent baseline test, a follow-up baseline test will be performed before the student's next athletic season.

Concussion protocol

A suspected concussion should be reported immediately. Student-athletes experiencing any of the symptoms noted above should immediately tell their coach and their parents. Also, if they notice a teammate evidencing such symptoms, they should immediately tell their coach.

The student should be evaluated. A student-athlete reporting or showing any sign of a concussion will be removed from play for further evaluation by an athletic trainer. Upon evaluation, if the student-athlete shows significant signs/symptoms of a concussion either through clinical evaluation or ImPACT results, he/she will be referred to a physician authorized in the management and clearance of concussed individuals. A licensed physician (MD or DO) sufficiently familiar with current concussion management should examine the student, determine whether the student has a concussion, and determine when the student is cleared to return to participate in interscholastic athletics.

Concussed students should give their brains time to heal. If a student has sustained a concussion, his/her brain needs time to heal. While the concussed brain is healing, the student is much more likely to have another concussion. Repeat concussions can increase the time it takes for an already concussed brain to recover and may cause more damage to the brain. Such damage can have long-term consequences. It is important that a concussed student rest and not return to play until he/she receives permission from a physician (MD or DO) sufficiently familiar with current concussion management, and is symptom-free.

Standard academic accommodations will be followed by SSA until, and not in place of, specific concussion accommodations are received from the physician.

A return-to-play protocol will be followed. Once the physician' gives the okay to begin, a five-day, return-to-play protocol progression will be administered by the athletic trainers:

  1. The athlete must be asymptomatic for 48 hours, with one day including academic classwork, before initiation of any exertional activities.
  2. The athlete will engage in low-intensity activities, such as jogging, biking, elliptical or low weight/high rep weight lifting, on the first day after being asymptomatic during academic day, for 20-30 minutes.
  3. If there is no return of symptoms after low-intensity activities, the athlete will engage in moderate-intensity workouts including jogging/running, biking and weight lifting.
  4. If there is no return of symptoms after moderate intensity workouts, the athlete may participate in high-intensity drills such as sprinting/running, regular weight lifting and non-contact sport drills.
  5. Upon successful completion of this progression, and a written release from the physician, the student-athlete may return to full-contact practice. It is recommended that the student-athlete participate in a full practice prior to interscholastic game play.

Head and neck injuries

If you think you have a head or neck injury, or concussion, please inform the certified athletic trainer as soon as possible. The athletic trainer will coordinate any necessary follow-up care with the team physician.

The protocol for head and neck injuries is as follows:

  1. Stabilize the head and neck
  2. Check ABCs
  3. Initiate CPR if indicated. This will include appropriate removal of helmet and shoulder pads in football.
  4. Remove face mask from football helmets
  5. Check and monitor vital signs including level of consciousness
  6. Obtain history including mechanism of injury, loss of consciousness. Examine for headache, photophobia, diplopia, dizziness, tinnitus, unsteady gait, confusion, retrograde and/or anterograde amnesia, behavioral changes, cognitive activities, nausea and vomiting.
  7. Perform observation including looking for deformity, discoloration, swelling pupil abnormalities and facial expressions/behavior.
  8. Palpation of bony structures and soft tissues for swelling, deformity, point tenderness, crepitus and skin temperature.
  9. Perform special testing. Include three word recall, serial sevens, Romberg test and coordination test as well as full upper quarter neurological screen.
  10. Look for other danger signs: cerebral spinal fluid from the nose/ears, continued headache, prolonged amnesia, nausea/vomiting, raccoon eyes, increase in systolic blood pressure or decrease in diastolic, speaking difficulties.
  11. Medical/emergency referral if there is any question with the athlete’s well being.
  12. If signs/symptoms last for more than 15 minutes, a licensed physician must release athlete before return to play.
  13. Athletes who sustain a head injury may be asked to take the ImPact neuropsychological test.
  14. The case will be discussed and the neuropsychologist will make a return to play recommendation. The return to play recommendation will be communicated to the team physician and certified athletic trainer.

Caring for a concussion/head injury at home

Should your child suffer a concussion or head injury, here are some guidelines to follow at home:

1.Have someone stay in the same dwelling as the injured individual.

2. Return for treatment with athletic trainer or physician.

3. If any of the following symptoms persist or worsen, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe headache not relieved by aspirin or Tylenol
  • Headaches lasting more than 48 hrs.
  • Weakness in arms, legs, hands or feet
  • Numbness or tingling in arms, legs, hands or feet
  • Double vision
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Unusual drowsiness
  • Very stiff neck
  • Inability to concentrate or confusion
  • Seizures or convulsions

4. Allow the individual to remain at rest during the night. Check in to assess normal breathing patterns.

Concussion prevention and awareness

To help prevent concussions, student-athletes and parents should do the following:

Use proper protective equipment. Every sport is different, but there are steps student-athletes can take to protect themselves. Always use the proper sports equipment, including personal protective equipment. For equipment to properly protect a student, it must be:

  • The right equipment for the sport, position or activity
  • Worn correctly and the correct size and fit
  • Used every time the student practices or competes

Be safe and follow the rules. At all-times, student-athletes should:

  • Follow the coach’s rules for safety and the rules of the sport
  • Practice good sportsmanship at all times

Educate yourself about concussions. In accordance with PIAA guidelines, all parents and students are required to read and sign the “Understanding of Risk of Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury” section of the CIPPE packet. In addition, in accordance with PA state law, all Shady Side coaches (including volunteers) are required to complete concussion education training.

Get tested. All SSA student-athletes are required to take a baseline ImPACT concussion test to be eligible to participate in athletics. If a concussion injury is suspected, a post-injury ImPACT test is given by a licensed healthcare provider, and results are compared to the baseline test to help assess the injury.

Links & Resources

Visiting Teams

The Shady Side Academy athletic training staff welcomes you to our campus.

The athletic training room, located in Curry Gymnasium or McKnight Hockey Center, will open one hour prior to warm ups for any taping needs. A certified athletic trainer will be present on the sidelines of the game.

  • Please bring a medical kit for any taping needs for your athletes.
  • Water will be provided for all basketball, tennis, cross country and track events. Please bring your own cups/bottles.
  • Ice will be available on the sidelines, court side or at the finish line.
  • Use of the athletic training room is for taping only.
  • Local emergency contact information.