Athletes get a healthy head start

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – More than a thousand high school athletes converged in west Tupelo on Friday.
North Mississippi Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Program was anticipating about 1,500 student athletes from 14 schools for sports physicals at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
The end of the school year is a great time to offer the sports physicals, said Walt Wilkins, who coordinates the sports medicine program.
“If they happen to find problems, they have the summer to get them solved,” Wilkins said.
Nettleton High School brought two busloads of student athletes, said Nettleton cheerleading sponsor Jenny Payne. The screenings are a great help to students, their families and coaches.
“It makes me feel better,” Payne said. “They could catch something we wouldn’t otherwise.”
It takes more than 135 athletic trainers, physical therapists, nurses, physicians and other volunteers to provide the physicals, who provide them free of charge.
For the third year in a row, the Weston Reed Foundation offered EKG screenings in partnership with Cardiology Associates of North Mississippi. Students who needed additional screening could have an echocardiogram – an ultrasound of the heart – on site.
The heart screening isn’t required by the state athletic association, but it has identified students with treatable, but serious conditions.
“We want parents to understand it’s better to get checked,” said Lee Reed, who was handing out T-shirts to athletes who completed the EKG screening.
michaela.morris@journalinc.com