Preparing for the future: Callaway senior can’t imagine life not on the sidelines

Published 8:15 am Saturday, January 13, 2024

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For the longest time, sports were not even on the radar of Callaway senior Saralynn Pelt. Now, she cannot imagine life without being on the sidelines. If you have seen her on the sidelines this year running to help an injured athlete at a Callaway athletic event that is just the new normal for her.

“Yeah, when I was younger, I was not interested in sports at all,” Pelt said. “Then all of a sudden I went to an Atlanta Braves and Georgia (Bulldogs) game and I was hooked.”

Pelt is an understudy of Callaway athletic trainer Rob Dicks through the work-based learning program through ThINC Academy that offers the opportunity for students to earn credits while working. 

Dicks has made quite the impression on Pelt. His legacy speaks for itself. Dicks served as the athletic trainer at LaGrange College for nearly 30 years and has won numerous accolades and achievements for his work. But what makes him stand out to Pelt, is his ability and willingness to give back.

“It’s been so much fun, I love him,” Pelt said of Dicks. “He enjoys teaching, which is good, because, he wants me to get to the level that he’s at. He took me under his wing when I didn’t know that much about what I was doing. He made me more than a water girl.”

The amount she has learned from both experience and from having Dicks as her mentor is unquantifiable. Despite taking the sports medicine class, putting theory into practice has brought new challenges.

“I didn’t know that much going into it. I took the classes, but you can only fit so much into one high school semester,” Pelt said. “I’ve definitely learned a lot in this semester about how to treat injuries, how to see them. It’s really helpful to have the hands-on and real-time experience. 

“You can only learn so much sitting in a classroom reading from a textbook versus being able to be on a football field and see an injury happen in real-time and putting your knowledge that you’ve learned to use.”

  This entire experience so far has led to growth and maturity for Pelt. She has even discovered characteristics about herself that she never knew were there. 

“I can put my foot down more than I used to be able to,” Pelt said. “I don’t like when anybody walks all over me or thinks just because I’m a girl, or just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I know anything. And I’ve learned to prove myself a little bit more.”

Pelt is not just taping ankles and icing bruises. She has to take care of the athlete’s well-being on and off the field. 

“We all have to keep our eyes on the court or the field or whatever the location is at all times,” Pelt said. “We look for if somebody gets hurt during the game, or needs to stretch extra, I’ll show them what stretches to do it for and for how long. If Rob is treating somebody, I am the person in charge on the court. if something happens, a coach will come to me. I can tell them, this happened to this player.”

It was a lot of responsibility for Pelt at first, but she quickly adapted. 

Pelt was a bit nervous going into her first fall season on the sidelines but was quickly embraced in her new role, saying “they all welcomed me in and the Callaway family is a real thing. I’ve been there since fourth grade. So I’ve bled red and black for a long time and I can’t imagine myself saying go Grangers or go Tigers or anything else.”

In just a few months’ time Pelt will be a Callaway High graduate. Her next goals: pursue sports medicine at a yet-to-be-decided college before pursuing a career in the field after graduating college. One day Pelt may be leading her own athletic training program or working for a high school, college or professional team, but it all started on the Callaway High sidelines, a place that grew to feel like home.