It was a decade ago when Leander Walker accepted the head athletic trainer position at Yukon High School.
At that time, Walker was getting out of college at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and was looking for a place he could do something “special” in sports medicine.
That was place was Yukon.
“It just felt like home,” Walker said. “I remember driving around the town and getting acquainted with the community. It immediately felt like home to me.”
Ten years later, Walker, with the help of the Yukon Public Schools administration, has built one of the top sports medicine programs in the state.
Walker has two full-time staff members who work alongside him to provide an important service to the Yukon athletes.
Daine Foster and Emilie Shannon have joined Walker to form a trio of athletic trainers, who have one mission: To ensure the health and safety for every athlete who roams the halls at Yukon High School.
“I am so blessed and so fortunate to have Daine and Emilie,” Walker said. “They do an amazing job for me and they are both very hard workers and passionate about what they do.”
Along with Foster and Shannon, Walker also has a group of student-aides. There are roughly 18 to 20 students in the program from year-to-year, and Walker said they provide a valuable service.
“We require them to get their CPR certification,” Walker said. “We do that because even though there are three of us, we can’t be at everything, so it is important that if we send a student or multiple students out to a sporting event, they have the training they need. They all know what do to do when it comes to providing water for the athletes and they serve as an extra set of eyes for us. So, if there is a situation that occurs, they can call us immediately and we can be there as quickly as possible.”
Walker said since he has been at Yukon, the biggest change he has seen is the growth and improvement in the overall facilities they have to work with at the high school.
“It’s amazing how great the district has been and how great the administration has been on valuing what we do,” Walker said. “They have provided our program with tremendous facilities to be able to treat our athletes as well as we possibly can. I love coming to work every day. This is a really special place.”
Roughly five years ago, Yukon’s administration approached Walker to disucss how they could expand the program. Walker said his top priority was adding trainers, so all of the student-athletes would have better overall care.
“It’s all about what is best for the student-athletes,” Walker said. “I knew that if we had multiple full-time athletic trainers, we would be able to be at more locations and be able to provide a better service because of that.”
A typical day for Walker, Foster and Shannon looks like this:
- Early mornings: They are open for treatment
- Late mornings: They teach classes
- Early afternoons: They are preparing athletes for games or practice
- Late afternoons: They are arriving at the facilities to cover the games
Walker said working in Yukon has been a tremendous experience and he looks forward to continuing that experience for a long time.
“Yukon is an incredible community,” Walker said. “The people here are amazing and the school system here is amazing. The support we get with our sports medicine program is second-to-none. It has been a great 10 years and I look forward to many more great years here.”