Mault says goodbyePublished 6:21pm Monday, January 14, 2013
There are several key decisions that are made during a sporting event, but the one Jeff Mault is routinely asked to make is the most critical.
For the past 19 years Mault has served as Washington High School’s athletic trainer and whenever an athlete went to the sideline with an aching knee or a swollen ankle you can bet shortly after the coach would walk over and ask, “Can he/she play?”
It’s a question that comes with a lot of pressure. The coach and athlete always want that answer to be “yes”, but a lot of times that’s just not the case.
Those situations can potentially create a lot of conflict, but not at Washington High School, where due to his expertise, Mault has had the full trust of all the Pam Pack coaches.
On Friday, Mault announced that he is retiring from his athletic trainer position during a Pam Pack basketball game, and aside from his kind spirit, it’s the trusting relationship he forged with the coaches and athletes that will be missed the most.
“Mr. Mault is a very kind person and he is very firm,” Washington athletic director and girls’ basketball coach Allison Jones said. “When he makes decisions regarding the athletes he really looks out for their best interests. And because he knows his stuff we have just been very fortunate to have him on the sideline during those moments when kids have been injured.”
Mault said those “can he/she play?” moments are the hardest part of the job.
“The toughest challenge is trying to decide and find that balance of making sure you don’t put someone in play too soon, but you still always want the team to win just like a coach does,” Mault said. “But that’s the reason that we are there, so we can be impartial and decide in the best interest of the student.
“… There can be a lot pressure, but you have to take a moment and think about it for a minute and do what’s right for the kid.”
It’s with that in mind that the 30-plus year science/biology teacher got a rousing applause when he was honored in between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games on Friday night at Washington High School as principal Russell Holloman and Jones awarded Mault with a plaque honoring him for his service.
“It was very humbling,” Mault said of the ceremony. “Athletic trainer is one of those jobs that doesn’t get recognized a lot of times … but it was very humbling to see the students there and to get recognized.”
Jones said the school has been lucky to have someone like Mault, who is a licensed trainer.
“We were just very fortunate to have someone like Mr. Mault. He’s one of the few North Carolina licensed trainers that work on a high school staff,” Jones said. “… We’re just very fortunate to have someone that is as highly qualified as Mr. Mault. He puts in so much time here people just would never believe it and we’re just going to miss him when he’s gone.”
Mault will be retiring at the end of the semester on Jan. 22 and his shoes will be filled by someone close to him and the school.
“We have Kim Rogers on staff who is actually Mr. Mault’s sister-in-law and a science teacher here,” Jones said. “She will be filling in for him and finishing the rest of the year with us. She completed her training this past summer.
“She is a member of the Pam Pack family and graduated from here and was an athlete here. So it’s nice to have someone like that jump back in to replace him.”