As athletic director at Northview High School and North Clay Middle School, Charlie Jackson has an abiding appreciation for the St. Vincent Clay-sponsored program that provides free sports physicals to Clay County student-athletes.
"I can't say how much that the school, the athletic program here appreciates the doctors and nurses who donate their time for this. It's overwhelming," he said. "It's a shame more athletes don't take advantage."
Jackson estimated that fewer than half of Northview's 350-400 student-athletes participate in the program, which will begin screening for the 2006-07 season later this month.
The proportion of North Clay athletes who take advantage of the free physical is even smaller, Jackson said.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association requires all the state's student-athletes undergo the screening-- which can cost in the neighborhood of $75 when performed by a paid health professional, according to Andrea Baysinger, Clinical and Community Education Coordinator at St. Vincent Clay.
Now in its sixth year as an official St. Vincent Clay initiative, the program assembles a small army of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals to perform the evaluations.
When serious problems such as heart defects are detected, participants are referred to their family physician, Baysinger said.
Baysinger said last year's program drew about 200 athletes-- about $15,000 worth of free evaluations, she estimated.
The program also welcomes the parents of the student-athletes being evaluated.
Nicole Gonzales, Northview's athletic trainer and a St. Vincent Clay associate, said a parent's involvement can foster a more thorough screening.
"Parents always have a lot more questions than the athletes do," she said.
Student athletes will have two opportunities to attend the screenings. The first session will be held on Wednesday, May 31st from 5:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. at the St. Vincent Clay Medical Office Building at 1206 East National Avenue in Brazil. The second event is slated for Wednesday, June 14th from 5:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m. at the Clay City Medical Clinic, located at 106 W. 7th Street in Clay City.