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The Madisonian

The Madisonian

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After 25 Years, Pappenheim is “the” Trusted Source for Student-Athletes and Coaches

Helping current MCHS teacher is his greatest accomplishment

Dave Pappenheim has been an athletic trainer at Madison Consolidated High School for over 25 years. Pappenheim has garnered a reputation as a man of excellent knowledge and success. Throughout his time, he has made many relationships and impacted many student-athletes and coaches. With his great experience, Pappenheim has forged a reputation as someone who can be trusted to care for the MCHS student-athletes.

Patric Morrison, head Athletic Director at MCHS, explained, “Obviously, Dave puts in a lot of time. He is always here when we need him, so his ability is an expectation. But also just giving that same consistency. Doesn’t matter the coach or the kid. It doesn’t matter if they’re a star player or the kid that sits on the end of the bench; he’s going to give you the same answer. Dave is going to make sure you’re completely and 100% healthy or safe to go back and continue your sport or activity.” 

Pappenheim has an everyday job working at KDH as a physical therapist. This differs from working with the student-athletes at MCHS in different ways. 

“At KDH I have a set schedule, so I know who’s coming in and what I am going to be seeing. It’s a pretty slow pace because there’s about one patient every 45 minutes, versus coming to the school where I have no idea who’s coming in; sometimes it can be very hectic. I could see up to 50 people in about two hours, and a lot of new injuries I have to access,” Pappenheim explained. 

However, it seems worth it when reflecting on why he helps these athletes and takes time from his life. 

MCHS athletic trainer Dave Pappenheim

“My favorite thing about being an athletic trainer at MCHS is taking care of the athletes because I know they appreciate my help,” stated Pappenheim. 

There are many questions from athletes, parents, and some coaches regarding the process of clearing an athlete and what work but also efforts are to be put into this process. 

Pappenheim clarified, “If it’s a minor injury and they haven’t seen a doctor, I usually put them through a return-to-play progression. So if it’s the lower extremity such as an ankle, they have to be able to run, jump, cut, and do some balance exercises with minimal pain and normal function. And that is also the same with upper extremity. They have to be able to do a push-up normal range of motion, good strength, and minimal pain before I let them go back. The last thing on that checklist is, if it was my son or daughter, would I let them play with that injury?”  

The athlete-to-trainer relationship is important and the main portion of the athletic trainer position. But there is also a coach-to-trainer relationship that is more so on the back end or behind the scenes. Patrick Maschino, Assistant Football Coach and Head Girl’s Track Coach for MCHS has worked in both sports with Pappenheim for many years. 

“The coach-to-athletic trainer relationship is more like a partnership, in my opinion. Because we, as coaches, are trying to put our athletes in the best positions to be safe. And that’s Dave’s number one priority, which is keeping the kids safe and healthy and making sure they’re set up for success. In terms of nutrition just make sure that they’re stretching properly and not overusing their bodies and not doing too many sports or too many activities.” 

Maschino continued, “So I view it really as a close relationship due to if kids get injured, we have been in close contact with each other, making sure they’re rehabbing, doing whatever they need to do, seeing Dave, and when in doubt, whenever I have a kid that’s complaining of something or needs help or guidance when in doubt I send them to Dave because that is just the amount of trust I have in him as a coach.” 

Working with Pappenheim is a joy for many staff members and coaches.

 Maschino added, “Working with Dave is awesome. He’s been around a lot longer than many of us have. He’s seen a lot, so the amount of trust we have in him as coaches is very high. He has been to multiple different places and has been an athletic trainer at many different levels, so he definitely knows what he is talking about.” 

Student-athletes and coaches at MCHS know that Pappenheim is a reliable and safe source of information. Pappenheim has a significant amount of trust from athletes and coaches. 

“When in doubt, we send kids to Dave because if we don’t know the answer, we want him to evaluate them so they’re taken care of and they’re getting the best possible reference to a different specialist or if he can take care of it in-house. Dave’s the man who really takes care of us coaches and takes care of our athletes. That really all we can ask for,” Maschino continued. 

Throughout Pappenheim’s time at MCHS, he has seen many athletes and many different injuries. Pappenheim has one specific athlete who stood out in his time here and really influenced but also inspired him. 

Pappenheim said, “My triumph story is Kristen Fish, also known or seen as Dr. Fish. She had a serious back injury when she was in junior high at MCJHS and had to have surgery coming into her first year of high school. At the time, she was the hardest-working athlete I ever worked with. I came to school four days a week at the time, and she worked out with me for an hour and a half, that is almost the whole time, four days a week, and did stuff on her own, coming back from her injury.”

Now MCHS teacher, Dr. Kristen Fish, who Pappenehim helped recover from a severe spinal injury.

The work Fish put in was unmatched and inspiring. She had the want and care to get back and overcome her injury. 

“There were many stories written about her comeback and injury. I also nominated her for the first-ever “Thomas Brady” Come Back Athlete award in Indiana. A female and male award was given for college and high school sports. She ended up winning that award out of all the females nominated for high school,” Pappenheim explained. 

Fish’s drive and courage did not go unnoticed. She was eventually rewarded with the Thomas Brady Award and continued her high school basketball and softball careers. 

Pappenheim continued, “Her injury was tiered Grade 4 Spondylolisthesis, which means her spine was disconnected from her tailbone. So they fused that together, and she was in a body cast. She had to get help with many basic tasks. She’s my triumph story because she went from a full body cast to being an outstanding athlete at Madison.” 

Pappenheim has significantly impacted Madison Consolidated Schools, and his story is not yet finished. He will continue to make a difference in the school system and the community, where student-athletes and parents can continue to feel like they are in safe hands.


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About the Contributor
Hannah Combs
Hannah Combs, Staff Reporter
Hannah Combs is a sophomore at MCHS, graduating in the spring of 2026. This is her first year in journalism and she looks forward to continuing. She plays volleyball and does track as a lady cub. She is also the photographer for our school’s football team. Hannah was born and raised in Madison Indiana, and she knows a lot about the town and community. Her favorite thing to do in Madison is cruising downtown and hanging out with her friends. Her favorite thing about Madison is all of the small-owned businesses and how they all bring Madison together. Hannah is excited about this school year and the stories that will come out of it. 

Comments (6)

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  • M

    Mike PeakJan 26, 2024 at 6:22 pm

    Yes Dave is a great asset for the school and the kids !! I know first hand how knowledgeable and professional guy he is !! After my back surgery he and his team at KDH Rehab did for me after my back surgery ! And my youngest daughter’s concussion she got during softball game !! Thanks Dave for being there for the kids !!

  • L

    Letha HardingJan 26, 2024 at 5:49 pm

    I always said you are one of the best!!!

  • L

    Lionel SmithJan 26, 2024 at 5:06 pm

    Dave came to MCHS my sophomore year in high school. I am 41 years old now. Being an assistant coach on the football team, I can tell you his demeanor hasn’t changed. We have a saying in the football locker room, “Dave doesn’t miss”. Thank you Dave for everything you do. I hope when my son reaches the high school, your still there.

  • M

    Mark WarnerJan 26, 2024 at 4:30 pm

    The absolute best trainer in Indiana High School Sports.

  • R

    Regina BlockJan 26, 2024 at 3:55 pm

    Very good article Hannah Combs

  • T

    Tara HamiltonJan 26, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    Dave is a super therapist. Wish him luck in his continuing years ahead