Professional Sports

Life on the Road

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Professional Sports

Life on the Road

Article reposted from Edmonton Oil Kings
Author: Cam Tait

The Edmonton Oil Kings start a three-games-in-three-nights Saskatchewan marathon Friday, so perhaps the question for Head Athletic Therapist Brian Cheeseman is timely.

How do you keep players safe and healthy on the road?

That’s one thing. Another is when Brian himself isn’t well and away from home.

“When we spend so much time traveling on the bus in close quarters, it sometimes doesn’t take long for a flu bug to make its way through the team,” said Brian.

“Most times, it is the players who fall victim to the bug, but occasionally it can affect the staff.”

The Oil Kings were playing the Moose Jaw Warriors on a Sunday afternoon in January of 2011 — the third game of a five-game road trip — when Brian caught the flu bug that was making its round with the team.

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“I don’t think I have ever been that sick in my life,” said Brian. “Thankfully we stayed over after the game as we still had to play the following Tuesday in Cranbrook.

“It certainly made for a long bus ride.”

Ah, riding the bus. What would the Western Hockey League be without it?

Brian and the rest of the Oil Kings packed their 2-0 record into an equipment bag Thursday afternoon for an eight-hour trip to Regina. Edmonton will face off against the Regina Pats Friday night. After the game the team will travel 45 minutes into Moose Jaw where they will meet the Warriors Saturday evening.

Then, right after the game, the team heads north to make the three and a half hour trip to Prince Albert for Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

It’s the first three-games-in-three-nights marathon for the Oil Kings, who will play a total of four this year.

Brian knows his role on the road.

“One of the biggest challenges is trying to ensure that we supply the same level of professionalism and care for our players on the road as we do at home,” said Brian, a native of Newfoundland. “Both Rogan Dean (Oil Kings Equipment Manager) and I pride ourselves on making each road dressing room feel like home for our players.

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“In addition to that I try to make sure that guys have access to the same treatment modalities and methods as we do when we are at home.”

Oil Kings General Manager, Randy Hansch, says that Brian and Rogan are the unsung heroes on the road.

“Brian and Rogan have a really good understanding of where our players are at,” Randy said. “When the players walk in, the dressing the room is ready to go for either a practice or game.”

Brian makes sure that the players are not only well rested, but have proper nutrition, hydration and recovery days after playing a game.

Speaking of rest, Brian makes sure he gets plenty himself before the team bus pulls out of Edmonton.

“Those weekends usually involve a lot of bus travel after games and it can sometimes be hard to rest and sleep while riding the highways of western Canada and the United States,” said Brian.

“Mentally I make sure I have a good book to read or some good TV shows and movies loaded up on my external hard drive to keep myself entertained.”

(To leave a comment or say hi email ctait@edmontonoilers.com)