I have major Olympic Fever. I’m hooked. I’m watching TV during the day when I normally would be working down in my office. Thank goodness this only happens every 4 years and only for 2 weeks. A little personal history: a retired figure skater, I competed for over 20 years with my last 10 years concentrating on synchronized skating. During my synchro career, I didn’t watch too much figure skating however; my love for figure skating was fully renewed after my opportunity to volunteer at the US National Figure Skating Championships back in January. I spent 24+ hours of that week sitting rink-side with EMTs, ATs and MDs watching the best in the country practice their programs. It was fun to be able to share my knowledge and some stories of figure/synchronized skating with other professionals, hear their stories and get their perspective on sport. The nationals’ shifts went by way to fast and I wished I had more time to offer. If you ever get the opportunity to volunteer at a unique event like this, I certainly recommend it!
So now, here we are 10 days into the Olympics and I’m hooked not just on the skating but on everything from Bob Costa’s Pink Eye to Skeleton and Slope side. I wonder how I would feel about the pressure of being an AT at the most important sporting event in these athletes’ careers. I recall back to when I was fresh out of college; I had the opportunity to volunteer at USA Track and Field Nationals. I remember one of the athletes sat down on a treatment table and asked me for a quad massage. I grabbed some lotion, and called upon my massage training day from college. Superficial effleurage, deep effleurage, petrissage and then lighten it back up. The second I put my hands on her leg she yelled “HARDER!” and I thought to myself, “Whoa! OK! So petrissage it will be!” But she kept saying “harder! harder!” (get your minds out of the gutter, people this is a true story) and I just could not massage her any harder than I already was. My hands were killing me! She began looking around helplessly and all I could think was, “this girl is going to lose her race because I can’t rub her quad hard enough.” I started looking around helplessly too and luckily a more experienced AT, who was also a massage therapist, swooped in and took over for me. When the other AT was finished, she took the time come over to me and made sure that I didn’t feel like a total failure which was greatly appreciated.
10 (and them some) years later, I’m a lot more prepared and used to working with these high level athletes. I’ve covered, marathons, world synchronized skating competitions and other prestigious events, but the Olympics…. WOW that would be something. What do you guys think? Would you want to be an athletic trainer at the Olympics? Got any cool volunteer experiences you’d like to share with us? Please feel free to comment!