Posts Tagged ‘hockey’

In-Depth Look: Head Athletic Therapist for the Kingston Frontenacs Hockey Club

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Posted March 7, 2017

Ryan Bennett, BHED, Dip SIM, CAT(C), ATC, CSCS is Head Athletic Therapist for Kingston Frontenacs Hockey Club, a major junior hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. He has worked for 12 seasons in this league.

Describe your work setting:

I work for a major junior hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. Currently, there are more players who go to the National Hockey League from our league than any other junior league in the world. It is a field setting, but I have a clinic and office I use for rehab and treatments.

How long have you worked in this setting?

I am in my 12th season in this league. Before that, I worked 4 years in professional hockey, mainly in the American Hockey League.

Describe your typical day:

There isn’t really a typical day for me as we play or practice at different times depending whether it's a weekday or weekend. Typically, we play 2-3 days a week, have 1 day off where only injured players report and practice each day the rest of the week. Our season starts with training camp in early September. The end of season is late March with a possibility of 9 weeks of playoffs. We play 34 home games and 34 road regular season games.

A typical practice day has me arriving around 8:45am to prepare for our older, non-high school players' arrival at 9:30am. They workout or receive necessary treatment until 11:00am. Once they have left for lunch, the equipment manager and I work on laundry, tidying the dressing room and gym and getting the bench ready for afternoon practice. Players arrive back around 1:00pm, and I work on any pre-practice stretching, taping, wrapping and treatment. Practice starts around 2:15pm, and I watch for issues and injuries from the bench.

When practice ends at 4:00pm, I supervise the high school players' workout and perform any other stretching or necessary treatments. The players leave around 5:00pm. At this time, the equipment manager and I work on laundry, and clean and prepare the dressing room and gym for the next day. I typically leave the rink at 6:00pm.

Game days have a similar morning with a few hours break in the middle of the day. I arrive back at 3:00pm to prepare. The players arrive between 4:00pm-5:00pm. Games usually start at 7:00pm, and I get home after the game and cleanup, between 11:00pm and 12:00am.

What do you like about your position?

I grew up playing hockey so I've always loved the team atmosphere, it's like a second family. The feeling of winning, especially big games and championships, is second to none. Treating elite and motivated athletes twice a day allows me to see quick improvements. It's very rewarding to get them playing ahead of doctors' estimates. Hockey has also allowed me to travel all over the province, country and world with my junior teams and international programs.

What do you dislike about your position?

I've missed many events including weddings, funerals, birthdays and celebrations of friends and family which is unfortunate. My schedule isn't very flexible and doesn't allow for any missed or sick days. I've missed only 2 games over 12 years, for my daughter's birth. It's also tough being away from my family during long days and long road trips. However, things like FaceTime help and having summers off goes a long way to make up for it.

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?

For those looking to work as an athletic therapist or Athletic Trainer (AT) with an elite sports team, I would suggest volunteering as an assistant to make sure you understand the huge level of commitment required to do a good job. Also, work with as many different ATs and other healthcare providers as possible. The skills and connections gained from other healthcare professionals will prove invaluable. Finally, nobody gets into this field for the hours or money so make sure you're learning and enjoying your job every single day. This is what I do and I haven't worked a day in my life!


I am Thankful to be an Athletic Trainer – Part 2

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Editor’s Note: Being thankful and celebrating the good things in life are very much a part of this time of year.  As year-end approaches, it’s important to look back and review your achievements and be proud of your accomplishments.  In this series, our BOC guest writers take a look back to at their career as Athletic Trainers and share their stories on what makes them feel thankful to be in this profession. 

NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Mike McKenney, MS, ATC, NASM-CES

If I could go back in time and ask my newly certified self where I would be the week of Thanksgiving in 2015, the least likely scenario would have my traveling to Belfast, Northern Ireland for The Friendship Four.  The Friendship Four is the first NCAA ice hockey tournament to occur outside of North America. Yet here I am, standing on the bench in SSE Arena, hearing thousands of people cheer us on for the first time as the puck drops to start our first game.

If you were to ask the average sports enthusiast what sporting events would be popular in Northern Ireland, ice hockey would probably not top their list.  However, it's quite the opposite.  Our hosts for this tournament were the Belfast Giants, a professional ice hockey organization founded in 2000 to compete with 10 other teams in the United Kingdom at the professional level, who are supported strongly by their local fan base.

The tournament itself represents a larger effort to bring different communities together.  Belfast has long suffered from political division with a history of civil unrest and violence that often divided sporting contests.  But not ice hockey, as was evident with the Giants organization.  From the moment we stepped foot inside the arena, we were welcomed with open arms by tournament personnel.  This also extended to the fans I was able to meet, who were some of the most enthusiastic supporters of the game I have ever seen.  They were cheering for us like we had been playing alongside the Giants for the past 15 years.  In a moment of utter surprise, I was asked to sign a jersey even though I was clearly not a player, which I can honestly say has never happened before.

We were also welcomed by the local community when the team had the opportunity to visit local primary and secondary schools to answer questions about ice hockey and share their experiences as Division I student athletes.  Since the tournament was over Thanksgiving, a local family with ties to Northeastern even went out of their way to host our entire team for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which was extremely gracious since so many of us were away from our families for the holiday.  In addition, our trip included opportunities to visit local historical sites such as the Titanic museum and areas that were significant to the time period known as "The Troubles." These experiences helped put into context why events like the Friendship Four are so important to the Belfast community.

Outside of experiencing all the great things Belfast had to offer, our hockey games were business as usual.  They did not differ much from our normal life on the road for any other away game, with the exception of being much farther away from Boston than normal.  It was extremely rewarding to be a part of a tournament intended to foster community-building and to create more exposure for the game of ice hockey.  This is an experience I am thankful for and will forever remember, and I would not have been a part of it had I not been an Athletic Trainer.


Is Doing More Better?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

I just read "How much is too much hockey for youth players?" from The Hockey News through a blog post by Mike Boyle, and it is shocking! Living in an area where hockey and soccer are very popular, it is incredible that schedules like this are the norm. Take a minute to read this.

Aside from the obvious concerns about injury risk through repetitive motion, what about the mental health of these kids? How are they able to think in school and focus on their studies when they spend hours a day playing or practicing with their team? It is even worse considering that most of them will never go on to play at the next level, even the ones who are not completely burned out.

Currently, we are in a mindset that if some is good, more is better. The problem is that more is worse. In an effort to improve and win, so many kids are being asked to sacrifice their physical, mental and emotional development. They are not getting a chance to physically recover day to day, they are not getting the mental rest needed to perform well and they are spending so much time practicing that they are missing out on the social aspects of being a kid.

Coaches and parents are pushing so hard that they are forgetting that it takes time to learn new skills and that practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. These kids need a complete approach to their training in order to allow them to fully mature as athletes and young adults, and playing the same sport all the time is not the way to do it. The best thing for some of these kids is rest, both mental and physical. The next best thing is free, unstructured play. I cannot remember the last time that I saw a group of children playing together in a backyard or a field. Encourage them to go meet up with some friends, play some games for the pure love of it, then go home, take a nap and eat dinner.

Since this pattern seems to be an international epidemic, how do you educate your coaches, athletes and parents on the benefits of rest, recovery and other sports? Do you think there is value to playing one sport all year long or should athletes vary their activities?

Written By:

An In Depth Look with an Athletic Trainer in the AHL

Friday, August 24th, 2012

An In Depth Look with… Kevin Morley, MS, ATC, LAT

Describe your setting:
I am the Athletic Trainer (AT) for the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League, the affiliate of the NJ Devils of the NHL. 

How long have you worked in this setting?
I worked in college hockey for six years, and came to the Devils in 2007, so I just finished my fifth year in pro hockey.

Describe your typical day:
Practice days and game days are very different.  On a normal practice day I am at the rink by about 6:45am working on chart notes, workman’s comp claims, medical billing, inventory, and preparing for the day’s treatments and Ther-Ex sessions.   We practice in the morning, for about an hour, so once that’s done, and the players finish treatments, Ther-Ex, and workouts, I am done by about 2:000pm. 

Game days are much longer.  We have a Pre-Game Skate in the morning, which is an abridged version of the schedule I described for a practice day.  Then, we’re back mid-afternoon to prep for the game.  After the game we clean up, do whatever treatments & assessments are needed, talk with the Coaches and Management, and try to be out by about 10:30pm.

What do you like about your position?
I love hockey and working with hockey players.  They are the best group of pro athletes I have ever come in contact with.  I like this setting better than the collegiate environment because I have just one team to take care of, so I can devote more time to each player.  I utilize some time-consuming treatment techniques, so it’s nice not to be pulled in many different directions.

What do you dislike about your position?
I would say the thing that I like the least is the time away from my family.  My wife and I have two small children, so I am gone for many dinners and bedtimes.  It is a trade-off though, as during the off-season, I am completely off and have tons of time for family events.   Since the NJ Devils played in the Stanley Cup Finals, this summer is about six weeks shorter than usual, but I think it’s a good problem to have!

What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young athletic trainer looking at this setting?
I would recommend getting your foot in the door as early as possible.  There are, relatively speaking, a small number of college hockey teams to rotate with during your ATEP education, so many students will not get that opportunity.  If hockey is interesting to you, seek out a local pro team or junior hockey team’s AT.  See if you can help out, observe, or shadow that person for practices or games.  They may be able to help connect you with other professionals in the hockey sports medicine community.