Glenn Preslar’s journey to Polk County’s sidelines began in the training room at North Stanly High School.
Preslar got to know that room well as a high school junior, a football career that included all-conference honors as an offensive lineman slowed at one point by an ankle injury. The ailment resulted in a visit to a medical specialist.
“I wound up going to see a physical therapist, and he was going over the anatomy and how everything worked and the process, and I kind of got hooked on it,” Preslar said. “I wound up doing my graduation project on it, and that’s how it got started. I dove into the ankle injury side of things and got hooked.”
Preslar eventually headed to Wingate University to play football, but his focus quickly shifted to the athletic training program. He earned his bachelor’s degree in athletic training and did an internship at Newberry College before joining the Sports Medicine program at Pardee UNC Health Care in Hendersonville.
It is through Pardee that Preslar is now in his third season as Polk County High School’s athletic trainer, serving the needs of all Wolverine athletes. He is a constant presence at Polk County practices and games, performing a wide range of duties.
“Glen is a valuable asset to the student-athletes, making sure they are healthy and the best they can be,” said Polk County athletic director DeShane Briscoe. “Glen has gone above and beyond all expectations. We are blessed to have him as part of our Polk County Schools family.”
Many fans only see Preslar on the sidelines at Polk County games, making certain that all teams have filled water jugs at the ready and set to care for any athlete who gets injured. What many may not realize is the wide range of conditions that he is trained to treat.
“I deal with any emergency care that is needed,” Preslar said. “Worst-case scenario, I am trained in basic life support using the (automated external defibrillator) rescue breathing, compressions, things like that. I have basic training in general medicine, so I’m able to deal with certain aspects of general health, sicknesses, sinus congestion and so on.
“I have orthopedic training for sports injuries and injuries that happen to active people in general.”
Preslar’s care isn’t limited to treating injuries as they occur. Once a Polk County athlete has been hurt and needs to heal before returning to competition, Preslar oversees that rehabilitation, making certain the athlete is truly ready before returning to competition.
It’s one reason why Preslar’s workdays often begin around noon and run deep into the evening hours.
“In severe cases, I will work with them privately to get them back on the field,” he said. “Rehab can be as intense as they come see me every day and we’re doing agilities, maybe some stuff in the weight room, things like that.
“Or it could be just as simple as instructing them in some stretching they need to do at home and then checking with them every day to make sure they’re doing it, that they’re improving and not getting worse and that we don’t need to step in and re-evaluate and see if they need to see a doctor.”
Preslar’s athletic background made him a sports fan; being around athletes on a daily basis turns him into a backer of those players as well. It’s not uncommon to see Preslar on the sidelines cheering on Polk County competitors, and he often takes losses just as hard as the players and coaches with whom he works.
“You build the relationships with the kids and you do start to pull for them,” he said. “You hate to see them go through the hard times and lose close games. It hurts you a little bit, too.”
Relationships, in fact, are a key part of Preslar’s approach. He works to develop bonds with student-athletes, outreach that he sees as just as important as his medical knowledge.
“I do enjoy watching the sports, but I really enjoy building the relationships with the kids,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that the ones I build the relationships with are the ones that tend to get hurt.
“It helps a lot more than a lot of people would realize in evaluating injuries as well. Knowing what a kid’s been through and a little bit of who they are as a person can play a lot in how they react when they get hurt. There are certain kids that I know if they come to me and complain about something, I know it’s bad.”