South Country athletic trainer earns prestigious Henry Schein rising star award


The head athletic trainer of South Country School District has been nationally recognized with the Henry Schein Medical Athletics and Schools 2023 Rising Star Award.

Gina Harris was honored for being the foundation of athletics at Bellport High School, said Eric Kearns, director of Henry Schein Medical’s Athletics and Schools business. Nominations and finalists for the award work in school districts across the country.

Harris runs the rehabilitation programs out of the high school’s athletic training room, attends doctors’ appointments with athletes, and purchases food for students who may not have the means to access healthy options, Kearns noted.

She also hosts Sunday recovery for athletes, helping injured students get back on the court and field as soon as possible, and established a cardiac screening day for 400 athletes, helping detect cardiac abnormalities.

Additionally, Harris added a work-based learning program to the high school, where students can shadow her and learn about the athletic training profession. She was nominated by Bellport High School junior Brynn Johnson, who participates in a training program and shadows Harris at work.

“The entire South Country school community is lucky to have the honor to call Gina Harris our athletic trainer,” said Patrick Hayes, the district’s director of health and physical education. “(Harris) goes above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure that all athletes remain safe and return to play as quickly as possible.

“For her, it is more than a job; it is about the longstanding relationships that are forged here at Bellport High School,” he continued. “You cannot help but think of Gina when you hear of Bellport athletics.”

Harris, who started her career in South Country in August 2017, said she feels “incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to make a greater impact and to be an ambassador for this astounding profession.”

“I’m honored to have even been nominated,” she said, “and I’m beyond proud to be given a chance to represent such a supportive community.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in athletic training in 2013, Harris worked as an assistant athletic trainer at LIU Brooklyn while pursuing a master’s degree in exercise physiology and sports nutrition. As part of the LIU program, she worked with high-caliber athletes, including two-time Olympic medalist and world champion sprinter Brendon Rodney.