Sustaining partner organizations


Project 17

The Project 17 Program

Ensuring the health and safety of youth athletes is a top priority. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, presence of certified athletic trainers (ATs) can decrease injury rates and help identify injuries that do occur in school or other youth sports programs. In 2014, the NFL Foundation, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society (PFATS) began a partnership to increase the presence of ATs in high schools nationwide. The NFL Foundation, NFL clubs and NATA have committed more than $1 million to place ATs in under-served high schools in NFL markets. In 2015, 16 NFL clubs participated in the grant program, working with local high schools to support schools and community youth sports programs. Specifically, the Jacksonville Jaguars awarded a grant to the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program which will serve the needs within the Duval County Public Schools through a special collaborative program called Project 17.

Program Description

Project 17: Certified Athletic Trainer Program

Program Kickoff

Collaboration between Jacksonville Jaguars, National Football League, Jacksonville University and the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program to place certified athletic trainers in 17 Duval County high schools by 2020 Program backed by grants from Jaguars, NFL and JU.

Jacksonville, FL, July 30, 2015 – The Jacksonville Jaguars, the National Football League (NFL), Jacksonville University (JU) and the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program (JSMP) have come together to provide the funding and training needed to place full-time certified athletic trainers in 17 Duval County public high schools by 2020. The effort will create a comprehensive athletic training program in the local public school system to support youth sports injury prevention and care.

Group Partners

“This is a collaborative project of multiple community agencies working together for the common goal of increasing safety in our public school athletic programs,” said Robert Sefcik, ATC, LAT, executive director of the JSMP. “The partnership was created to assist the schools in funding a comprehensive athletic training program that will begin as an internship model, with the intent to become a graduate assistantship program through Jacksonville University; that will culminate in the creation of 17 full-time positions within the Duval County Public Schools in the next five years.”

National statistics indicate the rate of sports-related injury among youth athletes can exceed 50 percent, and that certified athletic trainers specifically trained in preventing, recognizing and caring for these injuries are not always available to high school student-athletes. The Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation has commited to aid the effort to increase safety on our area youth athletic fields. In response, the NFL matched the commitment, and has donated $50,000 this year, with the possibility of increased funding as the partnership and programming grows.

“The health and safety of student athletes is paramount to the NFL, and as such the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation was able to secure a grant from the league for $50,000 to help begin this important initiative to ensure that the Duval County Public Schools have full-time certified athletic trainers by 2020 to serve the needs of all sports at the schools,” said Peter Racine, president of the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation.

Jacksonville University joined the program as an integral component of higher education, and will incorporate educational initiatives into a proposed Masters of Kinesiological Sciences (MS KIN) program to start in the fall of 2016. JU is developing the academic curriculum for the certified athletic trainers, and has created a fellowship pathway program that will allow them access to the proposed MS KIN graduate degree with emphasis in movement sciences. The 2015 athletic trainer cohort will participate in an internship model managed through the JSMP in cooperation with JU.

“We continue to position our mission to provide essential academic roles in the Jacksonville community,” said Christine Sapienza, PhD, dean of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Science at Jacksonville University. “Athletic trainers need to be an essential part of our schools’ sports programs, and our Kinesiology program will continue the certified athletic trainers’ education in injury prevention and rehabilitation, sport performance and movement science, shifting them into a significant area of expertise. We are proud to be a part of this powerful team of partners that are working to advocate for the safety of our children.”

Project 17 Group Photo

Sefcik confirmed the JSMP will function as the program’s center, organizing the finances as well as its medical direction with the involvement of five area sports medicine-trained physicians. JSMP also will develop the policies, procedures and best practices followed by the school athletic trainers and dedicated team physicians.

Certified athletic trainers are essential health care professionals who provide a safe playing environment, evaluate injuries, implement rehabilitation programs for the return to activity following injury, and provide expertise in outlining sports programs that focus on safe participation. Currently, each Duval County high school has the part-time assistance of a community-based athletic trainer employed by one of our local physician practices or outpatient physical therapy clinics. These athletic trainers provide on-call services to our schools, and some offer support for football programs only, leaving other sports without medical supervison. Because student-athletes in all sports are at risk of injury, this partnership was created to ensure that more sports programs are overseen by these licensed health care professionals.

“Athletics play an important role in shaping the lives of so many of our high school students,” said Kevin Kaplan, MD, head team physician for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlantic Coast High School Stingrays.“With athletes getting bigger, faster and stronger, the risk of injury also has increased. It’s crucial to have the appropriate health care in place for preventing and caring for injuries should they occur. I’m proud to be able to support the JSMP, along with the Jaguars, JU and the NFL, in providing certified athletic trainers to our Duval County public school system.”

The total funding needed for this five-year program is approximately $3 million. The Duval County Public Schools will fund the majority with the remaining funds being generated through private partnerships that will support the program its first two years until the district takes over a majority of the commitment.

The Certified Athletic Trainer

Athletic Trainers (ATs) are licensed health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs work under the direction of physicians, as prescribed by state licensure statutes.

What happens when injury occurs?

After an injury student-athletes should notify their school-based certified athletic trainer to inform them of the injury.

Meet our team of Certified Athletic Trainers

Robert E. Lee High School

1200 McDuff Ave S (904) 381-3930
Athletic Trainer – John DeBruhl, ATC, LAT
Team Physician – Howard Weiss, MD

Debruhle Headshot

Athletic Trainer: My name is John Leaman DeBruhl Jr. and I was born and raised in Lexington, SC. I went to Lexington High School where I became involved in an Athletic Training Program.  From there I went to Charleston Southern University where I obtained an undergraduate degree in Athletic Training. I hope to establish a comprehensive Athletic Training Program at Lee High School. My experiences in helping build an Athletic Training Program when I was in high school, will help me succeed in forming a new one at Lee.  My experience of attending a small school for my undergraduate degree allowed me to get more hands-on experience with athletes, allowing me ample time to improve my skills as an athletic trainer.

My ATF Philosophy: To provide the student athletes of Lee High School with the highest standard of care and help keep them on the field.

Edward H. White High School

1700 Old Middleburg Rd N (904)693-7620
Athletic Trainer – Amber Harrell, ATC, LAT
Team Physician – Jason Read, MD

Harrell Headshot

Athletic trainer: Amber Harrell is a graduate from the Florida State University where she obtained a B.S. degree in Athletic Training. She was a member of the Student Athletic Training Association and was inducted into Iota Tau Alpha Honor Society. Amber is a proud product of the Duval County Public School system. She attended schools in Duval County from K-12 and is excited to come back and serve the community of student athletes in Jacksonville. From personal experience, Amber knows how critical it is to have an athletic trainer in the high school setting. She participated in sports at Paxon School for Advanced Studies where an athletic trainer would have positively impacted athletes on and off the field. Amber believes having an athletic trainer will be a great benefit to all student athletes. Amber’s philosophy is “prevention is the best medicine.” It is her mission to educate athletes, coaches, and parents on injury prevention strategies to keep student athletes safe. With this initiative it is her goal to reduce injury rates and keep the playing fields safer. Amber has the skills to recognize emergency situations, help prevent injuries, evaluate injuries, and implement recovery programs to accomplish her goal. Amber is ready to perform best practices in sports medicine at Edward H. White Military Academy of Leadership.

First Coast High School

590 Duval Station Rd (904) 757-0080
Athletic Trainer– Shakala Peterson, ATC, LAT
Team Physician – Jeff Burnelli, MD

Peterson Headshot

Athletic Trainer: My name is Shakala Peterson, I am a 22 year old from Tampa, FL. I recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training. While working as the Head Athletic Trainer at First Coast High School, I will be earning my Master of Science degree in Kinesiology at Jacksonville University. I hope to build a comprehensive sports medicine program at FCHS by promoting safety in sports, educating student-athletes about the importance of hydration and nutrition, and bringing awareness about the importance of recognizing and reporting injuries early. With help from different community organizations, and research from evidence-based practices, I will have the proper resources to make for a prosperous program.

Samuel W. Wolfson High School

7000 Powers Ave (904) 739-5265
Athletic Trainer – Morgan Pavlansky, ATC, LAT
Team Physician – Brad Goldstein, MD

Morgan P Headshot

Athletic Trainer: My name is Morgan Pavlansky and I am from a small town all the way up in Ohio. I graduated with my undergraduate degree from The University of Toledo with a bachelors of athletic training. I was very involved in college with organizations such as Relay for Life, RockeTHON (Dance Marathon), Athletic Training Club, Alpha Omicron Pi and The Arthritis Foundation just to name a few. What I hope to accomplish at Wolfson High School would be to help the athletes understand and appreciate what all goes into being an athlete that doesn’t just involve being on the field or court. By this I mean to help my athletes understand teamwork, injuries, and the time it takes to take care of your body correctly in order to prevent injuries as well as why it is important to learn about these things. A few skills that I have to help accomplish my goal is having a personable side meaning that I can explain things to my athletes in a way that they will understand and relate to, putting things in their perspective. I also believe that being well organized is a skill that will come to my advantage in accomplishing this goal.

My personal philosophy for my athletic training facility is for it to be accessible and a place that my athletes do not dread coming to when they have to. I want it to be a place where they feel comfortable knowing they can trust me with their injuries in and out of season.

Stanton College Preparatory High School

1149 W. 13th Street (904) 630-6760
Athletic Trainer – Lacey Dennis, ATC, LAT
Team Physician – Robert Martin, MD, St. Vincent’s Primary Care

Lacey Headshot

Athletic Trainer: Lacey Dennis is a certified athletic trainer who is trained in the prevention and recognition of sports-related injuries. Lacey has the knowledge to clinically evaluate and diagnose, provide immediate care of emergent situations; provide treatment, rehabilitation, and reconditioning after injury; and organize services for sports safety. Lacey believes that all high schools should have access to a certified athletic trainer in order to provide appropriate services and keep the student athletes safe while competing. She completed her undergraduate honors thesis titled, The Effect of Static Stretching on Pennation Angle and Muscle Power Production in the Triceps Surae Complex with the help of Biomechanics Professor Dr. Li Li. Lacey has had the opportunity to present her research at multiple conferences, one conference being the National Undergraduate Research Conference at Harvard University. Lacey also received scholarship awards and recognition in the field of athletic training. Lacey holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training with a minor in Spanish degree from Georgia Southern University.

Project 17 Class of 2020

Michaela Moran, LAT, ATC

Sandalwood High School
2750 John Prom Blvd 32246
Team Physician: Jennifer Maynard, MD & Mayo Sports Medicine

Michaela Moran Headshot

Michaela Moran is the head athletic trainer at Sandalwood High School. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Tampa. She has experience identifying and preventing injuries among multiple sports some including lacrosse, baseball, and high school football. One of her favorite experiences during undergraduate was advancing to the state championship with Armwood High School’s football team. She particularly has an interest in therapeutic interventions as well as the influence of nutrition in order to prevent injury. While completing her masters at Jacksonville University, she looks forward to learning more about specific movement mechanics of the body and applying it to her career as an athletic trainer. Originally from Massachusetts,  she also has a three year old German Shephard that thinks he is a lap dog. We love the beach and spend a lot of time there.

Kaitlyn Motyka, LAT, ATC

Mandarin High School
4831 Greenland Rd. 32258
Team Physician: Lance Snyder, MD

Caitlyn Headshot

I come from a military family and I have lived in quite a few states. I also love traveling, especially overseas. I enjoy being an Athletic Trainer because I am able to make a difference in these young student athletes’ lives.

Annie Tomton, LAT, ATC

Paxon School for Advanced Studies
3239 Norman Thagard Blvd. 32211
Team Physician: Carl Freeman, MD

Annie is from Toledo, Ohio and recently moved to Florida upon acceptance into the Project-17 program. She is currently working at Paxon School for Advanced Studies as the Athletic Trainer, and looks forward to continuing her education at JU to benefit her athletes’ healthcare.”

Project 17 Graduates

Phill Fain, MS, LAT, ATC

Raines High School
6663 Raines Ave. 32209
Team Physician: Willie Pennick, MD

Tatiana Burrough, MS, LAT, ATC

Ribault High School
3701 Winton Dr. 32208
Team Physician: Reginald Sykes, MD

Blake Germann, MS, LAT, ATC

Englewood High School
4412 Barnes Rd. 32207
Team Physician: Wesley Mills, MD

Tiffany Poynter, MS, LAT, ATC

Westside High School
5530 Firestone Rd. 32244
Team Physician:

Ashley Alvarez, MS, LAT, ATC

Terry Parker High School
7301 Parker School Rd. 32211
Team Physician: Jennifer Maynard, MD & Mayo Sports Medicine

Other DCPS Athletic Trainers

Kevin Rapp, MS, LAT, ATC

Baldwin Middle and High School
291 Mill St. Baldwin, FL 32234
Team Physician: Jason Read, MD

Jason Snader, MS, LAT, ATC

Andrew Jackson High School
3816 Main St. 32206
Team Physician: Jeffrey Brunelli, MD