MINGO COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – For years, hiring an athletic trainer has been a challenge Mingo County Schools officials say they didn’t think they’d overcome. But now, they’re finally welcoming their first athletic trainer, West Virginia native Hunter Bailey.

Bailey says she has a passion for sports medicine and being offered this job specifically really hits home for her.

“Athletic trainers are expanding into more rural, areas and we’re really needed especially in places where there’s not a lot of access to trauma centers,” Bailey said.

This exciting development didn’t happen overnight, and according to school officials, they believe it would not have happened without a little bit of support.

Mingo Central High School Principal Marcella Charles-Casto says they didn’t have the funding to add Bailey to their staff, but they were able to partner with the Williamson Health & Wellness Center and the Korey Stringer Institute on a project called “InnovATe.”

The project is funded through the education fund established as a result of the NFL Concussion Litigation, giving students access to athletic training to help avoid and in some cases treat injuries.

The student-athletes at MCHS tell 13 News before Bailey was hired, they would have to drive 1-1/2 to 2 hours away for the same services she provides on campus.

MCHS girls basketball player Megan Adkins says “It makes it a lot easier to where we don’t have to go out and travel and she helps us with everything.”

Bailey says this is her dream job and students and staff say having her here is a huge help to the entire athletic program.