Cassville football players are back on the field and warming up for the first game, but this year, their closest ally won’t be watching from the stands. Play by play, Mercy athletic trainer Josh Bell will be right alongside them.
“I’m so excited to be the first dedicated athletic trainer in this district,” said Bell, who now provides full-time sports medicine services to Cassville R-IV Schools through a partnership with Mercy. That includes injury prevention, medical evaluations and recovery. “I’m evaluating athletes ahead of practice and I’ll be on standby in case there are injuries during games.”
“Josh offers us peace of mind that’s been long overdue,” said Lance Parnell, head football coach at Cassville R-IV Schools. “Football is a high-risk sport with 80 athletes involved, so it’s going to be great to have someone qualified to get them evaluated and treated right away.”
While football is Bell’s primary focus, he’ll be available to students and staff all year, offering help for cheerleading, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, cross-country and more. He’ll cover a wide range of issues, like heat-related illness, concussions and sprains – something long overdue in the region.
“For the last 10 to 12 years, we’ve had a strong pipeline of students traveling to Springfield from Cassville for sports medicine services,” said Jim Raynor, Mercy Sports Medicine director. “We realized the district needed a more hands-on, direct health care provider. This testament to our sports medicine program and the quality of care we’ve been able to provide.”
“I’m already feeling right at home,” said Bell, a Lebanon, Mo. native and Missouri State University alum. “I met a lot of the local athletes during summer camps over the last month, and we’ve already started talking about proper hydration and nutrition.” But that’s just skimming the surface.
“Let’s say there’s an athlete who is asthmatic or diabetic, or has a sickle cell trait. We’ll be able to adapt our treatment to his or her needs,” Raynor said. “Josh will be Mercy’s point person who can get students to primary care or the emergency department, orthopedics or specialty care, then during the recovery process through rehab.”
Bell, a U.S. military veteran, was deployed to Iraq before returning to Missouri. He and his wife, along with his 3-year-old son, will soon call the region home. “We’re moving into our first place and starting from scratch. Being an athletic trainer is something I’ve been working toward for a very long time.”
With Cassville High School’s first game this Friday, he couldn’t have gotten there quickly enough.
“This will be the first time in my 20 years of coaching that I won’t have to be the one taping ankles before the game,” Parnell laughed. “We’re just so happy to have Josh."
For more photos of Josh Bell, click here.