Charles Carter has worked as an athletic trainer for a variety of organizations during his career of more than 30 years, from East Tennessee State University to the New York Mets. For the last 19 years, he’s been the trainer for the Louisa County High School Lions.
Carter began his career as an athletic trainer in 1987 and floated around to different organizations. He was working for a sports medicine clinic in Richmond when Gary Black, who formerly coached the Lions’ boys’ basketball team, mentioned that Louisa was looking for a new athletic trainer. He applied for the job and was hired in January of 2002.
Carter was an athlete himself in high school, playing football and baseball. He worked with his school’s athletic trainer after injuring his knee during football season and soon after began to consider a career in the field of sports medicine.
“I liked athletics, I’ve been around them my whole life, and I wanted to do something in the medical field,” he said. “This was kind of a mix between the two.”
As the Lions’ athletic trainer, Carter’s main role is the prevention and treatment of injuries to athletes. If a player is injured during a game or practice, Carter assesses the injury and treats it as best he can to get the player back into the game as quickly as possible if it is safe for them to do so.
The most difficult aspect of being an athletic trainer, Carter said, is that his hours can make spending time with friends and family difficult during sports season.
“My busy hours are when most people like to go out and socialize,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to plan to do something when you never know if a game is going to get snowed out or rained out or get rescheduled. That’s really the only downside. I’ve always adjusted to it. It’s just part of the job.”
The job has its rewards too. Carter says he’s enjoyed getting to know the athletes in Louisa over the years and “seeing what makes them tick” as he helps them work through their injuries. He also enjoys watching the players get back on the field after they’ve recovered.
“It’s rewarding to see someone who’s frustrated because they can’t play, but watching them get back on the field and do what they like doing, it’s nice to be a part of that,” he said.
Even with the various restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter’s role hasn’t changed much. He’s still on hand for practices and games and doing his best to take care of the athletes. What has changed, though, is that he doesn’t have as much one-on-one time with the athletes.
“We can’t have as many in the training room at a time,” he said. “Before COVID, you could basically stuff them in as tight as you could and get them ready to go out and practice and they could be lined up in the hall waiting to get in. Now we have to pace them out a little more so it can take a little longer.”
His love for the job hasn’t diminished, though, and he isn’t planning on going anywhere.
“I like being around the good staff and the good medical department [at the high school],” he said. “I have no desire to leave.”