February 15, 2022

Celebrating Athletic Therapy at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

As Canada’s top athletes compete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, performance is key. These high-performance athletes are supported by coaches and medical teams that include physicians, RMTs, strength and conditioning coaches, mental performance consultants, physiotherapists and of course, athletic therapists!

This year, four Canadian athletic therapists are representing their profession and supporting Team Canada athletes at the Olympics. Christine Atkins and Jami Boyd are working with the women’s ice hockey team while Brian Cheeseman and Kevin Elliott are on the men’s side.

We were able to connect with Certified Athletic Therapist (CAT(C)) Jami Boyd about her Olympics experience. Although this is the first time she’s attending the Games, she has previously been a member of the COC core medical team for the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, the 2020 Youth Olympic Games and multiple World Championships with Hockey Canada, giving her critical preparation that has allowed for a seamless transition into Beijing so far!

Jami’s first exposure to athletic therapy came after experiencing an injury while playing hockey in high school. She was able to see Steve Dzubinski in Brandon, MB and later shadowed him at Brandon University to confirm this was the path she wanted to pursue. With a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (Athletic Therapy) at the University of Manitoba and her Master of Science (Applied) in Physical Therapy at McGill, Jami was certified in 2005 as a CAT(C) and is now dually credentialed as an Athletic Therapist and Physiotherapist.

“I am looking forward to what our Canadian women’s hockey team is going to bring to the Games,” Jami shared. “We’re ready to compete and it’s been an honor to work with such a cohesive group. Can’t wait to see how the tournament unfolds as we write the next chapter in our story.”

Journey to the Games

The path to the Games has been paved with testing and protocols. Spending 42 days in a bubble in Calgary for the World Championships this past summer, the National Women’s Team athletes and the medical team feel ready for the Olympics’ closed loop system. “We’re ready and excited to get going as we’ve been in this position before and our team excelled and will again this time!” Jami says.

Jami Boyd

The Role of Athletic Therapists at Beijing 2022

Working in collaboration with the other medical team members, the athletic therapists are responsible for injury prevention and rehab of any injuries that occur as well as coverage of all practices and games to administer emergency care should the need arise. This year, Jami also assists the equipment managers with setup and takedown when they are moving to different arenas or travelling or helps with warmups/cooldowns and workouts when the strength coach is unable to run them.

Since this group came together in July 2021 to prepare for the Games, no two days have been the same. “With so many skilled practitioners in one location, it is the perfect opportunity for knowledge sharing and professional growth,” Jami says of this experience.

An Athletic Therapist’s Path to the Olympics and other Major Games

Jami also took the time to offer advice for any athletic therapists aspiring to work with high performance athletes.

  1. Get involved and gain experience Jami recommends working at various events and with different teams to find an environment you are comfortable in and expand your network from there. Events like the Canada Games are amazing for getting experience and networking opportunities. Getting to work alongside some very skilled, experienced therapists can translate into valuable mentors and connections.
  2. Learn soft skills alongside acquiring new therapy techniques and skill sets Courses on communication and leadership among others are just as valuable as taking the latest AT course. These types of skill-building opportunities are often overlooked by therapists, especially early in their careers.
  3. Expect a nonlinear path as you pursue your passion When one door closes, another one is opening and it’s just a matter of you finding where that door is. Be realistic with your expectations and timelines of when you want to achieve certain milestones like working at an Olympic Games. At the end of the day, believe you belong and pursue your passion. It won’t come easy, but it will be worth it!

Among the work she’s performing with the athletes, Jami is also trying to promote Athletic Therapy and increase awareness. “It’s important to promote the proper usage of correct titles when working with teams and not selling yourself short. You’ve worked hard to achieve the designation of a CAT(C). Working alongside other healthcare practitioners that may be unfamiliar with ATs is another great opportunity to showcase our skills while creating a strong professional network. Get out and get involved!”

Thank you to Jami for sharing more about her experiences and advice for athletic therapists interested in working high performance events. As the National Ice Hockey Teams continue their pursuit of the gold, we celebrate the presence of athletic therapists on the Olympics stage!

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