Amateur Sports

Ohio Athletic Trainer Volunteers With Olympic Athletes

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Amateur Sports

Ohio Athletic Trainer Volunteers With Olympic Athletes

Article reposted from The News Messenger
Author: Sheri Trusty

A Clyde native spent two weeks this spring working with Olympic athletes in California.

Sara (Doebel) Breidigan, a 2006 Clyde High School graduate and the daughter of Michael and Lisa Doebel of Clyde, is a certified athletic trainer who was chosen to participate in a volunteer program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

The program is designed to pool medical professionals from around the country to provide much-needed help while giving those volunteers valuable experience in their chosen fields. Breidigan worked alongside physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors and other athletic trainers.

“There are many athletes at the center, and only five full-time staff members, so they love all the help they can get from the volunteers,” Breidigan said.

To qualify for the program, an athletic trainer must be certified for three years and have solid work experience. There are two other U.S. Olympic Training Centers, one in Colorado Springs and one in Lake Placid. The California Center served athletes training in field hockey, track and field, rugby, soccer, archery, BMX and Paralympics.

“I spent a lot of time with the men’s field hockey and women’s rugby,” Breidigan said.

Her duties included attending both practices and games and providing one-on-one care at the sports medicine clinic.

“Athletes would get booked on my schedule, and I would spend 30 minutes to an hour working with whatever injuries they needed help with,” she said. “That’s what I did most of the day, but I would also be on the field in case someone got hurt and needed emergency medical services.”

When she had the chance, Breidigan also spent time with the BMX athletes.

“I had never seen BMX in person before. I wanted to gain some experience with that,” she said.

The most eye-opening experience for Breidigan was the time she spent with Paralympic athletes. She worked with athletes who were blind or in wheelchairs and with a few sprinters with cerebral palsy.

“I think people need to know how incredible these people are. They’re not special needs; they’re just athletes with disabilities,” she said. “They train just as hard as anybody else and don’t get a lot of attention. They’re very talented.”

Overall, the experience was very beneficial for Breidigan. She gained knowledge and met medical professionals from all over the country.

“It was really cool to be out there. We all worked together to provide good medical care for the athletes. It was neat to see the dynamics and see how well-functioning it was in that setting,” she said.

The experience could one day change the course of her professional future. Many medical professionals who work with Olympic teams full time get their start as volunteers at the training centers.

“Pretty much all the time you’re there, you’re working with the full-time staff. They look at your skill set and how well you work with the athletes,” she said. “Team USA always travels to get game experience. A future goal would be to go with one of them.”

For now, Breidigan is employed by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Through the hospital, she works with young adults on site at Ohio Dominican University.

“I love working with that age group,” she said.

Contact News-Messenger correspondent Sheri Trusty at sheri.trusty@gmail.com or 419-639-0662.