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The unsung hero of Lawrence High athletics

Athletic trainer Ashley Kampfer helps empower athletes and support coaches
The+unsung+hero+of+Lawrence+High+athletics
Neva Livingston

Imagine a person who, in three to five minutes, can evaluate an injury, expertly tape up ankles or shins, and provide comfort and encouragement to thirty or more high school athletes a day. 

Sounds like a superhero? Nope. Instead, this is the everyday routine of Ashley Kampfer, the athletic trainer at LHS. 

“Athletic training is a lot of fun because it’s a little bit of everything: it’s a little bit of rehab, a little bit of injury evaluation, where we decide if we need to send you to a doctor or work on it here,” Kampfer said, “It has a strong basis in a lot of areas that combine into one.” 

Kampfer’s inspiration to be an athletic trainer all started on a high school trip to Australia. 

“I didn’t have an athletic trainer at my high school growing up, so I didn’t actually know what it was,” Kampfer said, “I had the opportunity in high school to go on a student government trip to Australia where we got to watch a rugby game. . . a player got hurt and had to come off the field. I saw the athletic trainer fix him up and just thought ‘this is so cool, combining sports and healthcare.’”

For head girls basketball coach Jeff Dickson, Kampfer’s help has been instrumental to the girl team. 

“She has a direct impact, like a coach would, on our program with the hands-on time she puts into our team,” Dickson said. “From setting up ice baths to taking care of injuries, she’s been integral to our program.”

From an athlete’s perspective, senior lacrosse and football player Zander Thomas has received Kampfer’s help for numerous injuries.

“I injured my hand playing lacrosse, and she helped me heal it,” Thomas said. “When I re-injured it during the summer, she helped me keep playing while I tolerated my injury.” 

For Thomas, all Kampfer did for the football program as a whole did not go unrecognized. 

“She puts the team in a better position to succeed through preventing injuries and giving us a better way to rehab. . .she basically gives us everything we need when we ask for it,” Thomas said.

For Kampfer, the most rewarding moments are seeing athletes fully recover from an injury. 

“Anytime you have an athlete that has a major injury, getting them back into their field of play and having them back a hundred percent is just so fulfilling for me,” Kampfer said. “I know how they’re feeling in that moment, and I know the hard work they put in to return to playing.”

There is an all-too-common trend of female athletes quitting athletics after the start of high school. Kampfer hopes to see more girls sticking with their sport all through high school. 

“I feel so much for female athletes because of how much participation drops off as soon as high school hits. I know a lot of it is body confidence and mental confidence, but there seems to be a point that if you can get over that threshold, then you can really flourish,” Kampfer said. 

With that, many female athletes at LHS, such as junior basketball player Brynnae Johnson, see Kampfer’s office as a safe space. 

“She is just a very kind person,” Johnson said. “Her space is always open to us if we need to go in there to get a break from something. It’s always a good environment in her room.”

Kampfer, who played on the KU women’s rugby team in college, feels that having a good mindset can make the transition from high school to college level athletics smoother. 

“I really think that staying active all through high school and not necessarily shooting for the stars, but just being active and having fun opened the door for me when I did get to college and entered this new athletic experience that I was just able to throw myself into,” Kampfer said. 

Although Kampfer’s work puts athletes on the right track to recovery, for Johnson, an injury left her on the bench for most of this year’s basketball season. Although the injury was a setback, Johnson says Kampfer helped her to stay positive. 

“She definitely helped me keep my head up by reminding me that recovery is a process and keeping me in a positive headspace,” Johnson said. 

Dickson recognized the importance of having female leaders in athletics, plus the effect Kampfer has had on the girls basketball team, and the school community as a whole.

“She has absolutely helped the girls. People like her are something we need more of in our school and community.” Dickson said. 

Through the many knees wrapped, ice baths filled, games attended, and encouraging words given, there is no doubt Ashley Kampfer is a bright light of the LHS athletic community.

“You can tell she really cares about our well being,” Johnson said. “She puts our needs first and I really appreciate that coming from her because she does a lot for us.”

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About the Contributors
Juliet Outka, Reporter
I am first year staffer, and am beyond excited to be a part of this community! In addition to journalism, I am part of the cross country team, theater, and the choir program. I am eager to tell the stories at LHS that aren't given enough coverage and celebrate our school culture.
Neva Livingston, Reporter
I'm a senior and second year writer/reporter on the journalism staff. I play for the girls tennis team, and participate in the studio/portfolio class here at LHS.

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