Article reposted from Kent Reporter.com
Author: HEIDI SANDERS
A pair of sports medicine students from Kent-Meridian High School had the chance to put their skills to test in the real world during the Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team training camp last month.
Seniors Sierra Hill and Trey Torr spent a week as interns alongside T-Birds trainer Phil Varney.
“This is the first pilot try of it,” Varney said. “We are really excited to have them out and try something new. We are trying to be involved in the community.”
Varney, who is in his 10th year as the Thunderbirds’ trainer, said he became interested in sports medicine after doing a book report on the profession in eighth grade. He expanded his knowledge of the field through internships and working with sports teams while attending college in Michigan.
“Someone took time to teach me in high school what to do, how to tape, the basics of the profession, what it means and then somebody took the time as an intern to teach me about hockey and the ins and outs of this sport,” he said.
The Kent-Meridian duo helped lighten Varney’s workload during training camp for Seattle, which opens the regular season Saturday night at Portland and plays its home opener at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the ShoWare Center.
“Our training camp size has increased every year which is a great thing,” he said. “We had 90 guys in here and there’s just me. We need some extra hands around to help and kind of carry the load a little bit with just some of the basic things which allows me to work more closely with the guys who need more attention.”
The students also received invaluable experience through the internship, Varney said.
“They can get that hands-on experience that incorporates a lot of learning and experience and a comfort level, so when they go on to their actual school and colleges and sports medicine field, they have a comfort level with patients,” he said. “They are already starting with that base of experience they have gotten the deer-in-the-headlights experience out of the way. They are already ahead of the game in their clinical experience.”
Hill, who along with Torr – is a third-year student in Kent-Meridian’s sports medicine program, said despite 14-hour work shifts, the internship was worth it.
“I have learned so much,” she said. “I have refreshed my memory from last year. It is just a great learning experience, and I am fortunate to have that opportunity.”
The intensity of the athletes surprised Hill, who wants to become a sports medicine physician at Seattle Children’s and might work as an athletic trainer while in college.
“It seems as if the athletes up at the high school don’t take it as seriously,” she said. “Everyone here is trying to do above excellent. … There’s a lot more muscle-related injuries because they are going beyond what their body can expect. It is a lot more difficult here to keep up with all the injuries.”
Torr, who hopes to work as an athletic trainer for a professional or semi-professional sports team, jumped at the chance to work with the T-Birds.
“These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” he said. “I do hope it evolves into something more, like staying with the team the whole season or something in the future. It really is a fantastic opportunity.”
Connecting with the players was a highlight of the experience for Torr.
“If you are going to work with a team you have to build a relationship with the athletes,” he said.
Working with a local team was an added bonus, Hill said.
“I thought it was really cool because I grew up watching all the Thunderbirds games,” she said. “It is my hometown team.”
Varney hopes the unpaid internship is the start of a long-term relationship.
“We can have kids out and really develop a good system of learning and working between the high school system and they get to come see the pro setting and really develop some quality professionals out of it,” he said. “We want to always grow more knowledgeable and better health professionals and this one way to do it.”