Participating at Pan Am event was ‘amazing’: athletic therapist

August 19, 2015   ·   0 Comments

The 2015 Pan Am Games brought a large number of both spectators and competitors and a lot of attention to Mono and Caledon, but it also brought with it opportunities for some local people to experience parts of the equestrian competitive world at an international level.

For one local Athletic Therapist (AT), the opportunity to participate at the Equestrian games as an official Pan Am Athletic Therapist, was more than just an experience – it was an opportunity that could act as a stepping stone to one of her dreams.

“It’s an honour to be selected to be part of the medical crew,” said Kristin Hodgen, an Athletic Therapist at Headwaters Physiotherapy on Orangeville’s Centennial Road. “For AT’s, the more experience you get working sporting events, the more points you get towards working the big events. We are often selected based on experience, so something like this helps me work towards events like the Olympics.”

Her journey toward the Pan Am Games began long before most of us had even heard of the event, or cared to know that it was coming to Canada. While she was attending York University’s Athletic Therapy program in 2009, a group of offi cials came from Pan AM TO2015 to speak to the students about the need for ATs at the event.

“I got really excited after their presentation,” said Ms. Hodgen. “It’s a dream of mine to one day work at the Olympics. The fact that the Pan Am Games is close to that level was just amazing, and made me want to apply even more.”

In 2014, she submitted her application for the Caledon Equine portion of the games, and has been on board ever since.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Ms. Hodgen. “Right from day one of being onsite, we got our uniforms and started our training and practice runs. The process has been very smooth and organized, which is incredible considering Pan Am had 23,000 volunteers to organize.”

Although Ms. Hodgen has worked several bigger sporting events in the past, this was the first time she had the opportunity to experience something on this level.

“There’s a lot to learn here, and there is a lot of great energy between the different people making up the medical team,” she said. “Each member of the team has a speciality that the others don’t – we work together as a team, but in each of our own specialities, we get the opportunity to shine.”

The medical team consisted of people from fi elds that could help the riders in different aspects – from EMS, and athletic therapists, to chiropractors and more.

“Thankfully, things have been fairly injury-free so far,” said Ms. Hodgen. “We don’t want to see a lot in the way of injuries; we want the athletes to be able to be at their best, and we support them in any way that we can.”

Part of what made the entire opportunity so exciting was that Ms. Hodgen was the only athletic therapist from Orangeville. While some others were there from Caledon and other areas, she said it felt great, because it felt like she was representing Orangeville.

“It’s been exciting, not just the participating in the games part, but because I’ve been able to share that excitement and help get people aware of just how big the Pan Am Games really are,” she said. “This has been a very different sport to cover – the riders are definitely strong and athletic, but they experience different types of injuries than in other sports. I’ve enjoyed working with these athletes and other medical professionals, and I look forward to working with them in the future as well.”

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