For some fans of high school sports in the area, Dr. Robin Bonds has been seen on the sidelines at McComb High School games tending to injuries and working in sports medicine.
Nowadays she is doing the same, but from a different capacity as the new Coordinator of Sports Medicine at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center.
Bonds’ promotion is part of the hospital bringing back its sports medicine program.
“I would be the go-to person for the coaches and also the parents for when the student-athletes need something from injury-wise or if they need to go see a primary care physician,” she said. “I would be the contact person and I would get them in, get the visit, do a follow-up and make sure everything goes through.”
Staffing for the program is ongoing, and Bonds hopes to have more employees on board in the near future. The goal is to make sure more athletic events, including practices are covered.
Bonds said that at a minimum for this fall, she is hoping to have Pike County covered, working to bring in more people for when multiple games are played simultaneously. As the program continues to grow, she said that the plan is to expand to the surrounding area, as well.
“The future plan is to have certified athletic trainers involved in this since we already have our staff of a physical therapist and orthopedic surgeons who are willing and exciting to participate in this,” she said. “Within the system we also have our general practitioners, who are willing to see the student athletes for non-sports injuries as well. Pretty much the whole team at Southwest is behind this, so the future is that when a parent or coach has a need for a student athlete, whatever that may be, that we can get them in within 24-48 hours to see the right specialist so that the parents will have peace of mind and avoid having to go to the emergency room.”
Working with student athletes is nothing new for the Summit native. After receiving her doctorate in physical therapy with a concentration in orthopedics and sports medicine from the University of St. Augustine in Florida, Bonds began working with Southwest in 2008.
In her youth, Bonds was an athlete herself, playing both basketball and softball. Working with kids now in sports medicine has a special meaning to her.
“I know that when I was playing, there was a need for it,” she said. “Dr. (Tom) Jeffcoat, he has been on the sidelines helping with the (McComb) school district and helping now with injuries. So coming back to the community and seeing a need for it, it has been a big plus for me to be able to help out in that area.”
Bonds said that working with Jeffcoat over the years, she has learned quite a bit from him as well, calling him a mentor and a friend. She added that the combination of her expertise in physical therapy and his background in orthopedics works well together.
Another individual, Dr. Bryan Frentz, just joined the team as well this year and his background is in orthopedic surgery.
With this being Bonds’ first year as Sports Medicine Coordinator at the hospital, she has already faced challenges, with the biggest being the coronavirus pandemic and the multiple changes it has already brought to high school athletics in 2020.
Another important challenge is constant monitoring of student athletes practicing outdoors in the humid conditions, making sure they train with proper hydration and rest.
“With the heat you have the dehydration part of it,” she said. “By seeing the kids daily, we can monitor and manage the kids to stay hydrated pregame, as opposed to during the game or after the game to prevent those things from happening.”
Administrators at a recent McComb school board meeting spoke highly of Bonds, her work over the years and the fact that she is revamping the sports medicine program at the hospital. Upon hearing the compliments, Bonds was very grateful and humbled.
“It’s exciting to be welcomed with open arms with this position and the services it provides,” she said. “It gives me something to look forward to, to do my best to make sure that everyone is safe and give parents peace of mind when their kids are participating in sports activities. It gives me a challenge and sets the bar for me and keeps me on my toes.”