DeDe lecturing at the Marshall Center for International Peace Talks in Garmisch,Germany.
An In Depth Look with… DeDe D’Orsi, ATC
Describe your setting:
DeDe D’Orsi has been a lot of things in her life: a professional skier, a U.S. Olympic Team Athletic Trainer (AT) and a physical education teacher, as well as a sports educator of military children, athletes and coaches in Europe. Her career launched as a Fulbright Scholar in 1989 in Minden, Germany, where she was a teacher and an AT for a professional soccer team for one year. Her career has evolved in various ways to involve international work, consulting and working with people in the military.
D’Orsi began lecturing at all possible conferences to promote AT awareness. She was sent to University of Arizona to be on a task force to rewrite its physical education curriculum with recommendations to have a certified AT in all Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) high schools worldwide.
About two years later, D’Orsi was one of 10 people chosen to go to San Antonio to become certified in coaching principles and sports education. She also teamed up with an instructor who taught the coaching part of the two-day course, and she taught the sports injuries portion. The entire course was set up by the American Sports Education Program. All coaches had to pass classes in both coaching and sports injuries, plus have CPR certification, before being able to coach for DoDDS (DoDDS has since become Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA).
She also worked with a German physical therapist, from whom she learned a great deal of European approaches to sports injuries. She began lecturing internationally in locations such as Innsbruck, Vienna, Scholoss Pitkin, Austria, Garmisch, Germany, Italy and Spain. She certified all coaches in the Bavarian Region of Germany in Sports Injuries before it went to online certification.
While doing so, she would lecture and write articles, reading journals for continuing education (CE). It became difficult to maintain her certification and find CE so she applied and became a BOC Approved Provider in Germany.
She conducted taping workshops for coaches at the AAHPERD annual conference, where she brought stateside colleagues over to lecture with her, including Dr. Sue Shapiro LAT, ATC, Associate Professor/Program Director of Athletic Training at Barry University. She also conducted a five-day Cramer type course in Oberammergal, Germany, with guest lecturer Steve Cole from the College of William & Mary.
The Department of DoDEA called D’Orsi to be on a new task force only when a heat illness charge was brought against them or if a head injury protocol needed to be written.
With the tightening of security after the Gulf Wars, D’Orsi had difficulties for attendees coming to her workshops. She had to change her business model. She became more involved with military athletes after being engaged to a soldier, which launched her interest in the Wounded Warrior Program.
How long have you worked in this setting?
D’Orsi has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 1982. She was a professional skier before she blew out her knee. The first injury, known as the unhappy triad, ended her skiing career. Her interest in athletic training began while she was getting treated in an athletic training facility. She already had earned a master’s degree at the University of Virginia, so her only option was to go the internship route to becoming an AT.
DeDe using Kinesio Taping for a TBI on a Wounded Warrior.
She took on many roles. Currently she is in Cocoa Beach, Florida, at Patrick Air Force Base transitioning to a stateside environment and working on getting her Florida AT License. After a three month waiting period, D’Orsi was permitted to be a Red Cross volunteer with the Bamberg, Germany Base PT at the PT clinic after her daily work. This began her interaction with the Wounded Warriors. She found this extremely rewarding, and it has become her calling.
Describe your typical day: There is no typical day. She sees various individuals who open up a new world of sports medicine to her. For example, she saw a soldier in his 20s who could hardly do 20 curl-ups or five minutes on the bike due to flight or fight syndrome, or battle fatigue, which he faced every day in a combat zone. D’Orsi took a course in Kinesio taping and lectured on it. She also utilizes Tai Chi and relaxation techniques when working with individuals for their stress. She also used Kinesio taping to treat warriors with traumatic brain injuries, long range sleep disturbances and continuous headaches.
D’Orsi has a passion for supporting individuals in the military and helping them get back on their feet. She also enjoys lecturing and learning new applications constantly.
What do you dislike about your position?
D’Orsi was inspired by her mentors Joe Gieck and the late Dr. Frank C. McCue III, as well as Gene Bayliss and Kathy Ortega to keep spreading the word of athletic training in Europe. ATs were thought of as coaches in Europe, which brought many problems in recognizing what the profession actually does for the athlete. Presently working with the Army in Germany as an AT, one is just thought of as a glorified sports event planner for the Wounded Warriors, and that wasn’t what she was interested in.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young Athletic Trainer looking at this setting?
Go out and make your way over there – internationally. Europeans think of an AT as a coach. You have to think outside of the box.
She also learned that if you give it away, they’ll keep on taking it. So she created her own source of getting the word out through workshops as a European consultant. And if you can speak the language, it is a huge asset. D’Orsi studied Spanish first and then found a private tutor while in Germany. She taught and skied with Austrians so she needed to learn German. Learning the language helps you to understand the culture that you are living in. D’Orsi has certainly left her footprints in the sand for young professionals to follow. It is now their turn to pick up the ball.