Local athletic trainer who helped teen shot outside of Sto-Rox stadium finalist for national award

A local athletic trainer is being honored for his contributions to the field.

Chris Freeborough knew he wanted to help young athletes after he suffered a gruesome injury as a high school football player.

“Before I even hit the ground, I knew what was happening,” he said.

The injury changed Freeborough’s plans to play football in college, but his rehabilitation process opened a new door. It showed him first-hand the importance of support during recovery and led him to athletic training.

“Not having that same support and kind of seeing the outcome I got, and being able to come in and make a difference in these kids lives is just very big,” he said.

Freeborough most recently worked as a trainer at Monessen High School, but he says it’s the work done outside of the school building that makes the biggest impact.

“That even means if mom or dad is just stuck at work, getting them to their appointment, getting them to where they need to be, getting them to physical therapy,” he said.

It also means helping to fill trainer vacancies at other schools, something Freeborough is particularly passionate about.

He has helped create school-employed athletic training positions at schools in the Mon Valley and provided per diem services to schools dealing with staffing shortages.

Freeborough also knows his role means jumping in during a crisis, as he did in June 2021.

A teenager was shot outside the football stadium at Sto-Rox High School. Inside the stadium, Freeborough was working an all-star football game.

He remembers the chaos as the crowd heard shots fired.

“Everyone’s trying to run,” he said, “We did have one elderly lady fall and ended up breaking her hip. We were able to get her out of the stands and over the fence just to make sure she was safe,” he said.

He then turned his attention to finding the shooting victim.

“(We) went and helped that officer who was already on scene trying to put the first tourniquet on the gentleman who was shot,” he said.

That effort is just one reason why Freeborough was a finalist for the Henry Schein Rising Star Award, which recognizes up-and-coming professionals in athletic training.

To Freeborough, it’s a sign he’s on the right track as he aims to connect every Mon Valley school with a full-time trainer.

“Just trying to make sure that everyone can play sports safely and have that access to whatever their passion is and be able to do it responsibly and safely without risking their lives is a big thing for me,” he said.

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