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Kansas athletic trainers lose jobs amid COVID-19 fallout

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – They are the men and women on the sidelines waiting to help when athletes get hurt or need physical support. But, for two Kansas trainers, the economic impact of COVID-19 has left them without jobs. 

Danny Smiley has been an athletic trainer for Augusta High school for 17 years. 

“You become part of the team,” says Smiley. “The family relies on the athletic trainer for a lot of things to kind of bounce things off of and become a bit of a psychologist sometimes.” 

On March 24, Smiley received a letter from Susan B Allen Memorial Hospital letting him know he would be laid off from his position as an athletic trainer. The hospital did not return calls asking about the dismissed employees.

“No two-weeks severance, no insurance benefits after the end of the month,” Smiley said. “So there wasn’t much safety net there at all.”

Smiley isn’t the only trainer laid off from the hospital. Circle High School’s Brad Jones is also trying to adjust to the unfortunate news. 

“To be honest, it hasn’t set into me yet, because I am always positive something is going to happen,” Jones says. “I always think good things are going to happen to me as long as you’re being a good person.” 

Jones has been a trainer for 28 years, but right now he says his biggest priority is the health of his family.

Smiley hopes the steps being taken that resulted in his job loss will be for a greater good. 

“Hopefully, we look back and say, ‘Okay, we helped flatten the curve and slowed down the spread of the virus,’ because of the sacrifices we made because of social distancing,” Smiley said. “Hopefully, they’re worth it.”

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