ROCK HILL, S.C. – Mvskoke Citizen Laura Anne Wilson is a nationally certified athletic trainer in Rock Hill, SC and was recently named a “Hometown Hero” by a local television station. She currently works at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, SC as an athletic trainer and teaches sports medicine.
Wilson was the 1997 Jr. Miss Mvskoke and continues to help with the Mvskoke Royalty pageant. She is of the Wotkvlke Clan, and grew up going to Thlewarle Indian Baptist Church outside of Dustin, OK. She attended Morris Public Schools where she played sports and graduated in 2000.
Being from a small rural town with limited resources, Wilson knew that she wanted to go into the medical field but was not exactly sure what career path to take. Athletics and helping people have always been a part of her life. She wanted that to continue in her career choice.
“I knew sports medicine was what I wanted to do overall in high school because we were always going to ball games for my cousins, brothers, or myself growing up,” Wilson said. “I saw my friends, cousins or somebody get hurt and sometimes I would later think ‘well what happened after that?’.”
At the time, Morris did not have athletic trainers, so that occupation was not familiar to Wilson. However, once she started attending college at Northeastern State University, she saw an ad in the school paper about athletic training and decided to check it out.
“They were like ‘oh yea just show up for football when we start in the fall, this is the day, just show up here’ and that was just kind of where I figured out what athletic training was and that’s actually what I wanted to do,” Wilson said. “Working with athletes every day and working with a team everyday was kind of the big picture and then I finally figured out what I wanted to do from that.”
Wilson received a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance with a minor in Biology, though she did not stop there. She continued to further her education and knowledge at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Upon graduation, she received a Master of Science with a concentration in Athletic Training. During her last rotation for the program, she was working at Bentonville High School as a student intern.
After graduation, she was offered a position at Bentonville High School, beginning her official career as an athletic trainer. She stayed with the school for five years, and during that time was able to work with lots of student athletes.
Wilson Saves a Student
One student in particular that she worked with was a baseball player named Wes. One day during off-season practice, he had collapsed on the field and was not responsive. Wilson and the coaches began chest compressions, artificial breathing and called 911 to have an ambulance dispatched.
“He had the brightest blue eyes, and whenever I looked at him, his eyes were just kind of like a gray color,” Wilson said. “It was just crazy to look and see that.”
Wes’s parents were called, and by the time the ambulance showed up it had only been a couple minutes. However, according to Wilson, those were very long and intense minutes.
“That was probably the scariest time after that, because you just don’t know if you got to them fast enough,” Wilson said. “Which we know that if you start CPR and get an AED attached within three minutes then they have the best chances of survival without any kind of brain or organ damage or failure.”
Wilson said during that moment, her adrenaline kicked in and all the training that she went through and learned is all she could rely on.
He spent about two weeks in the hospital and was in a medically induced coma to make sure he did not have any brain damage. The doctors did not figure out what happened to Wes, but he survived and is living a full life now.
“I actually got to go to his wedding a few years ago, and that was very emotional,” Wilson said.
She received an invitation to his wedding and got the approval from her athletic director, who also worked at Bentonville during Wes’ incident. Even after years had passed and Wilson had moved out of Arkansas, the impact she had on Wes and his family continued.
“I was thinking these kids are not going to remember me from like 10 years ago,” Wilson said. “I got there, and they were like ‘Laura!’, and so that was kind of crazy.”
“Every single one of those kids who were there that played football, basketball, baseball or whatever said, ‘Wes has been talking about nothing but you coming to this wedding since you sent your RSVP in’.”
Wilson said that even now when the time of year comes around when the incident happened, it is still an emotional time.
Now when giving CPR classes to students, Wilson tells the kids in her class “you never know if you might have to use this, hopefully you never do.
Wilson said that if students are interested in sports and medicine, athletic training is a good field to go into because they can stay around sports. They are not confined to a typical office space, they attend all the sporting events, and are able to make a positive impact on student athletes. Athletic trainers can work with any sport.