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Best in state: Heritage’s athletic trainer to be recognized

Andy Goss’ goal is to keep athletes safe and healthy

VANCOUVER — Andy Goss is willing to step to the stage to accept some well-deserved praise, but he insists he is doing it for his profession, not for himself.

“I don’t like to be in the spotlight,” Goss said. “Most of the time, a simple thank you makes my day.”

Andy Goss keeps a watchful eye on the action as Heritage faced Union in a boys soccer match Wednesday at McKenzie Stadium. Goss, the athletic trainer at Heritage, was recently named the state’s top athletic trainer for high schools. Photo by Paul Valencia

Andy Goss keeps a watchful eye on the action as Heritage faced Union in a boys soccer match Wednesday at McKenzie Stadium. Goss, the athletic trainer at Heritage, was recently named the state’s top athletic trainer for high schools. Photo by Paul Valencia

He will be getting much more than a simple thank you at the annual conference for the Washington Secondary Schools Athletic Administration Association (WSSAAA), which begins this weekend in Spokane.

Goss, of Heritage High School in Vancouver, has been named the Medco Sports Medicine’s state Athletic Trainer of the Year — the first award of its kind.

“We work hard, but we don’t do it for the glory,” Goss said. “We do it for the care of the athletes, to make sure they are safe and healthy.”

Heritage athletic trainer Andy Goss tapes an ankle for soccer player Spencer Clark prior to a recent game. Goss is not only the trainer at Heritage, he also is a full-time teacher at the school. Photo by Paul Valencia

Heritage athletic trainer Andy Goss tapes an ankle for soccer player Spencer Clark prior to a recent game. Goss is not only the trainer at Heritage, he also is a full-time teacher at the school. Photo by Paul Valencia

Still, the battle for athletic trainers through the years has been to get school districts to value their importance, to understand they are more than people who tape ankles. Medco’s award, and the fact that the WSSAAA is honoring the profession, means a big deal to Goss.

“Most athletic trainers are underappreciated and underrecognized,” he said. “To have something like this …”

Leta Meyer, Heritage’s athletic director, nominated Goss for the honor.

“Athletic trainers are an integral part of an athletic program,” Meyer said. “Andy is such a caring person. He is great with the kids. He really helps not only with their injuries but he helps them as a person, to grow and develop.

“It’s really hard to put into words,” Meyer continued, adding that athletes, coaches, and parents trust him. “We’re lucky.”

Heritage football’s twitter account also praised Goss: “We have known how great you are … it is about time others know as well.”

It was Meyer who told Goss that he was the recipient of the first award.

“What’s the word? Appreciated,” Goss said.

Still, he is not convinced it should have been him.

“There’s got to be someone out there who is more deserving,” he said.

Maybe, but Goss has a lot going for him, too. Besides being an athletic trainer at Heritage, he is a full-time teacher, instructing students in medical science, anatomy physiology, and sports medicine. He runs HOSA for the school, as well, an organization for future health professionals.

Goss also helps students put on a canned food drive as well as three blood drives a year.

“Just giving back to the community when we can and how we can,” he said.

Heritage athletic trainer Andy Goss takes care of soccer player Spencer Clark. Goss, who has been at Heritage for six years, will be recognized this week at the state athletic directors conference as the top athletic trainer in Washington. Photo by Paul Valencia

Heritage athletic trainer Andy Goss takes care of soccer player Spencer Clark. Goss, who has been at Heritage for six years, will be recognized this week at the state athletic directors conference as the top athletic trainer in Washington. Photo by Paul Valencia

As far as his job as athletic trainer, he is particularly proud of his involvement in the Zach Lystedt Law. Goss testified in front of committee before the state law was passed in 2009. The law requires youth athletes who are showing signs of a concussion to be examined and cleared by a licensed health care provider prior to returning to action.

Athletic trainers at schools are key to recognizing some of the symptoms of a concussion because they know their athletes so well.

“If there is any suspicion, no, can’t go back in,” Goss said.

Athletic trainers are more than just the first responders on the field of play for an injury. Much of what they do, Goss said, is prevention of injuries through strength and conditioning and preseason checks on equipment.

Those behind-the-scenes moments are appreciated by the athletes and coaches, but not necessarily by the public.

In fact, a perfect scenario for an athletic trainer on game night is to not be seen. That means no injuries during a football game or soccer match, for example.

“It’s a strange job, in that sense,” Goss said, acknowledging that just standing on the sideline would be ideal.

This is Goss’ sixth year at Heritage, a place he loves. He grew up in Vermont and initially went to college to become a physical therapist. He changed to athletic trainer because he loved being around motivated individuals. The best athletes, he said, are willing to do the extra work, either in practice or in rehabilitation or  in preparing their bodies for competition.

He moved to the Northwest and found work at Ferndale High School before moving to work at Kelso High School. He and his family still live in Kelso, with Goss commuting to Vancouver every day.

“The kids are great kids,” he said, noting the culture of the school is about lifting up people. “We all are enjoying the community and the potential the community has.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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