SHERIDAN — Every player and coach knows exactly where to find Joanne Goss. During the school day or at practice, she’s perched in her office at the north end of Sheridan High School, surrounded by exercise equipment, training tables and tape — lots and lots of tape. On game day, she totes around her medical kit, never straying too far from the Broncs’ bench, ready whenever her services are needed.
Goss is Sheridan’s athletic trainer and is an essential piece of the foundation for success within Bronc athletics.
“Without her, it’s a different school, for sure,” Sheridan boys basketball head coach Jeff Martini said.
Goss arrived in Sheridan after earning her masters degree from Montana State University. She originally hails from Cheyenne — attending the University of Northern Colorado for her undergraduate degree — and thought she’d make it back to the capital city shorty after her college days.
But once Goss started working for athletic director and former football head coach Don Julian, she became enthralled with the way athletics were run at Sheridan.
“I saw the way that Don not only led the football program but led all of our programs — to think bigger than just winning games,” Goss said. “There seems to be a greater purpose to doing sports at our high school.”
Goss sees that every day as the athletic trainer. She meets with football players, tracksters, basketball players and many other athletes from their respective sports, and each one embodies the same mentality. The players are cordial, receptive and overall fun to work alongside.
Goss’ weekdays begin at 12 p.m. when athletes can visit with her during their lunch for treatment and physical therapy. Goss utilizes the time after lunch to lesson plan for a concurrent class — involving Sheridan College — that she teaches in the afternoon.
The school’s final bell rings at 3:35 p.m. commencing Goss’ busiest portion of the day. At this time, any and all athletes can venture down to the training room seeking anything from injury diagnosis to treatment to in-depth physical therapy.
Goss’ day extends until around 8 p.m. when all practices wrap up for the day.
Goss’ responsibilities somewhat change on game days for Sheridan athletes. During the fall, Goss travels with the football team unless another Sheridan squad is playing host to an opponent. In the event that Goss can’t attend a road football game, she reaches out to the host school’s trainer and asks them to check in on the Sheridan athletes — Goss will do the same thing for opponents that travel to Sheridan.
The only other sport, besides football, that Goss accompanies on the road is basketball, soccer and wrestling and only when those squads compete at regionals or state.
“Every day is different, and that’s the great thing about my job,” Goss said.
Goss has done this for 10 years now, and in that time she’s seen an assortment of different ailments. She’s taped ankles, wrapped quadriceps, dealt with nagging overuse injuries such as IT band problems and shin splints, while also assessing serious and uncommon injuries.
Unfortunate circumstances such as a torn anterior cruciate ligament or rare injuries like posterior knee injuries — or in the case of this season, osteitis pubis — allow Goss to harken back to her studies as an undergrad and reach out to colleagues for advice.
“The athletic trainer geek in me sometimes gets excited like, ‘Oh yeah, I remember learning about this in undergrad, and they said this would never happen, and there it is.’” Goss said. “The professional in me is really grateful to have colleagues that I can call when I’m not sure how to handle a situation.”
Those serious situations are certainly difficult for the athlete. They can’t practice or play with their team.
Goss empathizes with these athletes but finds merit in the process that needs to take place for that player to return to game action.
“It’s not necessarily hard, but it’s important,” Goss said. “I see it as an important role to be there and help them through that. I feel fortunate in that as far as my patients go, I get to see them every day. … I really get to be a part of that recovery process, and I’m able to build those relationships to help them through those situations. I think that’s probably one of the favorite things about my job.”
Goss came to Sheridan as the start to her journey as an athletic trainer. The stop has proven much longer than she originally thought, and that’s simply a credit to the athletes and coaches Goss has worked with over the years.
She’s an essential piece to the Sheridan puzzle and has no plans to change that anytime soon.
“She’s awesome,” Martini said. “She’s always willing to work with any of our kids. She always checks in with us to see how our guys are doing. She’s so nice, kind and caring and a great asset to our school.”