What I did know when I started university was that I wanted a career where I could help people (which could honestly be anything). After a switching into kinesiology, I made the great decision to become a student trainer. Students in kinesiology at the U of S have the unique opportunity to join the student trainer program where they get assigned to one of Huskie Athletics’ sports teams, providing medical coverage at all practices and games both home and away.
As a trainer you are the first one to arrive and the last one to leave, often spending up to 30 hours a week between the field, rink, gym, clinic or on the road. Anytime an athlete is hurt, trainers are the ones to assess tape and follow up with them at their physio appointments, helping them on their road to recovery. Trainers are also expected to participate in clinic hours where they get to shadow physical therapists as they rehab athletes. During my time in the program I got to work with Men’s Volleyball, Football and Women’s hockey. Each team provided its own unique experience where I got to see and manage a variety of injuries and work with amazing athletes and coaches. My favourite moments were spending time with the athletes before and after practices/games and on the bus during road trips. I spent 3 amazing years in the program, which were the highlight of my university career. I am extremely thankful for not only the experience, but also all the memories and friends I made. To this day many of my closest friends are the trainers and athletes I worked with while in the program.
There are two athletes that come to mind, both of whom I had the opportunity to work with during their rehab process, that had the biggest impact on me and solidified my decision to become a physical therapist. The first athlete was a 5th year nearing the end of her university eligibility when she suffered a knee injury only a few weeks prior to playoffs. The other athlete had been out for a lengthy period of time with a concussion. I spent a lot of time with them whether it was attending physio appointments, in the gym as a workout partner, or keeping them company during practices and games when they were unable to join their teammates. I was so fortunate to be apart of their recovery because the most rewarding moment for me was watching them light up when they were able to play their sport again.
Although I have been gone from the trainer program for two years, you can still find me working on the sidelines with a variety of sports teams across the city such as the Saskatoon Valkyries and the Saskatoon Hilltops football teams. Both teams have allowed me to be apart of amazing experiences from national championships to pre-season games in Las Vegas. The opportunities and adventures never end as a trainer.
For anyone interested in physical therapy as a profession, I highly recommend volunteering as a trainer. The knowledge and experiences I have gained have helped me excel in the classroom on my road to becoming a physical therapist. The long hours at practices and games are 100% worth it for the hands on experience, because it is something that just can’t be replicated in school. While I am still unsure of where I will end up once I graduate in November, I can almost guarantee that the trainer life will continue.
Alex Wojcichowsky – Physical Therapy Student