Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two Months on the Road...A Sochi Recap

As I type, it has been two months since I've set foot in the United States.  I had the pleasure of working with the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Team both prior to and through the Winter Olympics.  The experience was awesome... but it's always good to be home. Our travels took us through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and onto Russia.  The following are some musings I've had both during and after this experience. While difficult to capture concisely, I'll do my best to keep a bullet item style entry list.   The list is random and in no particular order of importance.

The US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was very successful at the Olympics, garnering at least one medal in each event.  Congrats to the following medalists whom I had the humble honor of working with:
Matt Antoine:  Bronze Men's Skeleton
Noelle Pikus-Pace:  Silver Women's Skeleton
Steve Holcomb & Steve Langton: Bronze Men's Two Man Bobsled
Steve Holcomb, Chris Fogt, Curt Tomasevicz & Steve Langton: Bronze Men's Four Man Bobsled
Elana Meyers & Lauryn Williams: Silver Women's Two Man Bobsled
Jamie Greubel & Aja Evans: Bronze Women's Two Man Bobsled

I would be remiss if I did not mention the rest of the athletes who competed at the highest level; there are many that were on the World Cup team who didn't make it to the Olympics, just as there were Olympic athletes who didn't garner a medal. Simply getting to that point is a feat in and of itself; they are all shining examples of devotion to their sport and truly embodied the Olympic heart ached for them when they didn't achieve what they desired to.  Just because an athlete doesn't medal, doesn't mean that they aren't giving their all, and I think that can be easily dismissed.
Apologies to the Dos Equis Guy, but fellow ATC Byron Craighead (pictured above) may truly be the most interesting man in the world.

The Olympics were an emotional roller coaster.  I teared up more times in the past two months than in the past two years.  OK, that's not true. I tear up a lot.  But the moments were raw, real, emotional, and to be a part of that, even a bit part, will leave an indelible mark on this athletic trainer.

Regarding those who complained  the facilities/hospitality were subpar, my advice is simple.  Gain some perspective, or come travel with me to some parts of the world where everything isn't tailored exactly to one's lofty expectations.  In many ways the region reminded me of my travels in the Dominican Republic.  Applying "first world" logic to all parts of the world simply doesn't work.  I took the experience for what is was; brand new infrastructure that went up in the blink of an eye.  Was it perfect?  No...but I've yet to find perfect anywhere.  The lodging was fine; the volunteers were amazing!  Their spirit was palpable on all levels.  I'm not sure I could ask for much more considering the region we were in.  Of course, to be fair, this was my first Olympics, so if I were only comparing to other Olympics, my perspective or expectations may have been different.  The people were great, and they did their job...plain and simple.  They deserve our gratitude, not our complaints.

I felt euphoria marching during opening ceremonies.  Not sure I deserved to be there as much as others, but it's certainly how I felt walking into that stadium.  I heard many thought the sweaters were ugly, but I have to tell you, walking in wearing the letters USA on your back, amidst a sea of your fellow teammates instills a sense of pride that transcends fashion.

I may be a teacher, but this experience was a strong reminder that I am still a student; I learned a multitude of information on this journey.  I need to be better at maintaining this mindset on a more permanent basis.  Speaking of which, I have yet to find the book that explicitly guides me on how to remain a confident, assertive practitioner while also remaining open to new ideas, proven or not.  If you find one, let me know.  Better yet, maybe I should start writing it.  I should be ready by the time I'm 90.

Dry needling is not acupuncture.  But it kind of is?  I need to learn more about it, but it does fascinate me.

Athletic Training does not have to be reactionary practice (post-injury); it can be performance enhancing.

Athlete's often know their body better than coaches/therapists.  LISTEN to them.
Coaches/Therapists often know an athlete's body better than the athlete.  DISCUSS with them.  The problem that can arise is a LACK of, or complete omission of communication and open mindedness which can impede athletic performance.  We can all learn from each other if all parties knock down traditional walls of professions.  It's a complicated dance at times, but quite lovely when all parties collaborate equally on the finished product. 

Message to ATC's:  If you haven't already, learn Kinesio Taping.  Learn manual therapy skills.  Practice them often.  Be open to new ideas, but don't be afraid to voice your own thoughts...through careful collaboration, the most positive outcome for the athlete can be attained.

Contrary to some colleagues, I would argue that classic taping with 1.5 inch white tape is not a dying fact I utilized it quite regularly throughout.

My thanks to the USOC, USBSF and USM for a wonderful experience!