April 21, 2020
ASHEVILLE — Josh Owen has seen his job change drastically in the past month.
For the past seven years, Owen, 35, has been the only athletic trainer at Asheville High School, standing on the sideline at every home sporting event, waiting to jump into action if an athlete needs medical attention.
He now finds himself adjusting to a new role as the cancellation of public schools and high school sports continue due to the spread of COVID-19. Owen is one of dozens of local athletic trainers who now screen patients for coronavirus at hospitals across Western North Carolina.
“We’ve gone from sports to now having to hunker down on the front lines to support our community,” Owen said. “I think this pandemic has opened my eyes to how athletic trainers can take our skills and move them from the athletic field and into hospitals.”
Owen has been working 12-hour shifts at Asheville’s Mission Hospital for the past six weeks since the N.C High School Athletic Association postponed high school sports on March 12. The state has set a date of May 18 to return to spring sports after Gov. Roy Cooper announced March 23 that all public schools will be closed until at least May 15.
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“Being in the hospital and seeing the sickest people come through our doors, it’s really eye-opening to how important our jobs are right now,” Owen said. “That pride we get from seeing an athlete through an injury is the same we have when we can help these people that are in dire need right now.”