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Head Athletic Trainer for “Marvel Universe Live!” and “Disney on Ice”

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Jay Christensen MS, LAT, ATC is the Head Athletic Trainer (AT) for “Marvel Universe Live!” and assigned to “Disney on Ice.” He has been a Certified AT for more than 10 years and worked in settings including high school, The Professional Surfing Tour, the Professional Golfers’ Association, Olympians and Major League Soccer.

Describe your typical day:

My typical day is unique in that I travel for work almost exclusively. I am currently in Japan with “Disney on Ice” and in 10 days I fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to resume my international tour with “Marvel Universe Live!” I will be with them for seven weeks and then return to “Disney on Ice” in China and tour with them. I will continue this back and forth internationally for the next 9-10 months. I oversee more than 90+ athletes, crew members and support staff on each show.

The performing arts include more than the performers, and I am asked daily to evaluate and care for the additional touring personnel that are involved too. My daily show schedule is usually from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. I care for performers ranging from figure skaters to fire dancers, stunt people, freestyle ice skaters, aerialists, acrobats and gymnasts alike. I also work with trials motorcycle riders and experts in stilt walking, high falls and hand to hand combat as well as weapons experts. My cast is made up of professional stunt people from film and television to national and world champion figure skaters as well as Olympians and X-games medalists.

What do you like about your position/What motivates you in your role?

I love that my position allows me to travel the entire country and the world. I have the full support of my directors, production managers and coordinators so I am extremely fortunate to practice in this setting. My motivation stems from my education at home in Hawai’i. I strive to make my family, community and the islands proud of my work and my involvement. I try to spread as much “Aloha” as I can and as far as I can. I have been fortunate to lecture to universities all over the United States and internationally too. I am motivated to share my passion for my field with students all over the world.

What is your greatest achievement as an Athletic Trainer?

My greatest achievement as an AT is a weird story so I hope I do it justice and that it makes sense: Intentionally, I sit in the same spot in relation to the stage known as down stage left. That is to say that if the stage curtain is to your back, you would look toward the audience and to the far-left corner to find me. I do this for several reasons, but largely for consistency so that in all the chaos, all my performers and crew know where to look for help. I have found over the many years I have done this that there is great peace of mind and comfort for them knowing where to look for help at any given time and knowing that I am constantly watching. My greatest achievement as an AT became clear when a previous performer was returning to watch a show and asked if they could sit with me to watch and subsequently questioned (in front of others) if I was still in my usual spot.

This may sound silly, but there was/is great satisfaction in knowing that after all these years and to a completely foreign cast they all recognized that this location was universal for everyone who had ever worked with me as my spot. This made me so happy and quite proud.

Like most of my colleagues I have received praise from my patients and love from their family and peers, and while it is flattering and means more to me then they will ever know, the inherent trust and safety conveyed to me through this comment and the affirmation of all of those previous make it one of my most proud moments/achievements.

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

What advice would I give? Get involved early and often in whatever field you find of interest. Volunteer (if you can/must) apply for everything you’re able to and even try for those opportunities you think you may not get, you never know. As for the performing arts, find an opportunity wherever you can that will give you experience and build relationships of trust/network like crazy. You never know who knows who or who might ask for a recommendation. “It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you!”

If you are interested in learning more about my career and travels, follow me @airjay09 on Instagram.

This article was originally published in the 2023 winter "Cert Update" newsletter.

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