Article reposted from The Pueblo Chieftan
Author: Luke Lyons
Unlike other professional athletes, competitors in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association do not have guaranteed contracts.
To earn money cowboys and cowgirls must compete, even if injured.
That’s where the Justin SportsMedicine Team comes in.
The team treats cowboys across the country, including bull fighter Dustin Koniq, a competitor at the 56th PRCA Ram Rodeo at the Colorado State Fair.
Konig has a nagging neck injury that he has been treated for by the Justin team led by program manager and athletic trainer Doug Olle.
“They keep us going,” Konig said. “They’re our livelihood. Having them around is a blessing, they take such good care of us.”
Founded in 1980 by Dr. J. Pat Evans and Don Andrews with a sponsorship from the Justin Boot Co., the team was created to provide mobile athletic training and medical treatment at rodeos across the nation.
Now, the Justin SportsMedicine Team travels to 125 events each year, including the Colorado State Fair.
Olle, who has worked with the team since 1992, has treated other professional athletes and high school athletes, but said he wouldn’t give up working for Justin SportsMedicine.
“I enjoy the heck out of it,” Olle said. “I wouldn’t trade this for anything.
Olle said the family atmosphere and camaraderie is the driving force of his work.
“We’re a family and it’s a family sport,” Olle said. “Everyone is down to earth and grounded. I get to meet some incredible people. It’s a pretty good deal.”
By partnering with local athletic trainers, orthopedic surgeons, family practitioners, pharmacies and even gynecologists, the Justin SportsMedicine Team provides free treatments to PRCA competitors.
Physicians and trainers treat various injuries including dislocated joints, lacerations, broken bones and even serious injuries involving head trauma and spinal damage.
The team also provides preventative services such as stretching and taping.
“Friday, myself or my staff touched 31 different body parts,” Olle said. “Sunday, we did about 24. That’s me or my staff, stretching, taping, hot pack or evaluation pre-rodeo, during or post-rodeo.”
The spontaneity of the job has become normal to Olle, who said no day at work is ever the same.
“I tell people all the time, my job can go from paradise to hell in one second, he said. “It can get pretty hairy, but it’s part of the job.”
Olle works 30 rodeos a year and operates one of three Justin SportsMedicine Team trailers.
The care is paid entirely by Justin Boot Co., which also created a Cowboy Crisis Fund to help with additional medical costs.
For cowboys such bareback rider Luke Creasy, having the team is invaluable — even when they aren’t at a rodeo.
“We’re usually calling or texting them trying to figure out what we need to do,” Creasy said. “When we really need them and they’re not there, we still confer with them about what we should be doing to get the next one and figure out what we need to do. Even when they’re not there, they’re still helping us.”
Creasy said without the Justin SportsMedicine Team, his job would be a lot tougher.
“Rodeo is rough,” Creasy said. “Our bodies feel it, we’re going to rodeos every day for weeks on end. Without them to take care of the things that are bugging us, we couldn’t perform effectively or at all most of the time.”