Published on March 15, 2022

Essentia Health proud to offer sports medicine services to Brainerd student-athletes

March is National Athletic Training Month, and Essentia Health is proud of our longstanding partnership with the Brainerd School District.

For more than 25 years, Essentia has provided sports medicine services for the district and its student-athletes. A new five-year contract was agreed upon last July that will allow Essentia’s trainers to collaborate with the athletic directors, coaches, officials and parents to ensure safe environments at our high school games and practices.

Over the past 25 years, Essentia has worked with thousands of young athletes in the area.

“We want to keep them participating in the activities they love,” said John Haugrud, Essentia’s sports medicine director. “It’s a privilege for us to serve our community in this way.”

Injury prevention remains the focus for Essentia’s sports medicine team, which is led by Dr. Andrew Zhao, a sports medicine physician. The goal is to keep student-athletes healthy and thriving. Essentia’s athletic trainers work to be on-site, keeping tabs on and communicating with athletes.

The five-year agreement included a $50,000 donation from Essentia toward the upgrade of exercise equipment used by the school’s entire student population. It’s another way to support health and wellness in the community, said Sandy Zutz-Wiczek, vice president of ambulatory operations for Essentia.

“This solidifies the relationship between our school system and the Essentia Health sports medicine program,” Haugrud said. “It’s the continuation of an effective partnership. We’re thrilled to provide this service because we’re all in this community together.”