There will be a new face on the sidelines at Dorseyville Middle School sports competitions this year. Tonya McKenzie, LAT, ATC, has been appointed as the DMS head athletic trainer and will oversee the health and well–being of 15 teams and nearly 500 student-athletes.
She will also fill in occasionally at the high school for John Panos, M.Ed., ATC, the district’s head athletic trainer, and will work at special sporting events.
The newly appointed athletic trainer has a few goals in mind as she begins her job at DMS.
“I want to get to know the people in the Fox Chapel Area sports community and work closely with the team doctors, coaches, nursing staff, and school counselors to build relationships,” McKenzie says. “It takes a team of professionals to give the best care possible to injured athletes. Prevention is a big key for me. More kids are sustaining injuries at younger ages. If they do not get the proper treatment early, they possibly will be susceptible to more injuries later on.”
McKenzie also says, “I’ve worked in different venues in various capacities, both as an athletic trainer and before that as a medical assistant, so my approach is to treat the whole athlete. My role is not only about the athlete’s health, but also teaching safety and prevention of injuries. Educating them about their bodies is also necessary because their needs are very different that those who don’t play sports. I like to talk with them about nutrition and ask them what they think they should eat before a game. I also ask them what they think are good foods for an athlete to eat as a healthy diet. It’s important to start them thinking this way at the middle school level so they can build strong nutritional knowledge and habits.”
As the mom of a former athlete who suffered from a few scuffs, a broken wrist, and a concussion, McKenzie understands the anxiety that athletes feel and that of their parents as well. “I think it allows me to speak on a level that makes me more approachable and helpful, while still being professional. My role is to be proactive in giving them the best medical care possible.”
Prior to coming to DMS, McKenzie served as the head athletic trainer at Ohio Christian University. Before that, she worked for UPMC Sports Medicine and was assigned to Obama Academy. In that capacity, she worked with the doctors, athletic director, coaches, and athletes representing 16 sports.
McKenzie also was instrumental in getting all six Pittsburgh Public Schools designated as First Team Safe Sports School winners, a three-year honor given by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). The recognition is given to secondary schools from across the country that take important steps to keep their athletes from sustaining injuries. As a result of her efforts, McKenzie received the
UPMC All-Star Award for performance and commitment to her profession.
“Tonya has professional and life experiences that definitely transfer to young athletes,” says Panos. “She has a high passion for the profession and a love of kids. I think she’s going to be a great fit and do a really nice job at Dorseyville.”