Society Member Charley Keen is the newly appointed Lead Sports Therapist at the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA). The University of Gloucestershire graduate takes over from Society Director Kate Cady who has done an immense job with the Association and is now working with the Great Britain Ice Hockey Squads. We talked to Charley about how her role has developed.
You’ve worked with England Ice Hockey for a number of years, how did you get started?
I always made sure that I took every opportunity that came up during my time as an undergraduate student; this included frequent off-ice training camps with varying age groups of the England and GB ice hockey squads.
I volunteered to get involved with the launch of EIHA’s 'Headcheck' campaign back in January 2015 where a few of my cohort took the time to educate parents, children and fans on the signs, symptoms and management of concussion, prior to a Swindon Wildcats game. I have to admit, from then I was hooked. It was my first time watching an ice hockey match and I loved it.
Upon graduating I began working for the Swindon Wildcats who play in the English Premier Ice Hockey league and I travel up and down the country covering all away games and an increasing amount of home games - I work along side Katie Davies (now Course Leader of the undergraduate Sports Therapy programme at the University of Gloucestershire) which is great as a newly qualified Sports Therapist, as it allows that college-mentor relationship. It was Katie who invited me to lend a hand at the U15s England training camp in the August prior to starting with the Wildcats - this was my first experience of working rink side but I obviously made a good impression as I was later asked by the U15s Manager and Head Coach to travel away to Füssen, Germany some months after Katie's departure from the England setup.
Can you tell us about the role? What teams do you work with? Are you responsible for developing the full medical programme?
Yes I am working across the programme and we are currently in the thick of the trials for U15, U14 and U13 hopefuls. We are also running a camp this December for a selection of Conference players in the U11s age group, as an insight into the programme, ready for them to make the step up into U13s next year. Additionally we have an U16 select squad joining us this December to be put through their paces and face off against GB U18 women’s squad, as they prepare for their upcoming tournament. Luckily I have a team of Sports Therapists and a Strength & Conditioning Coach to ensure all of this runs as smoothly and as professionally as possible - I couldn't manage without them.
This year the medical and coaching staff are launching a new educational aspect to the programme to highlight to players and parents, the importance on their performance and wellbeing of nutrition, hydration, warmup/cool downs and appropriate training/rest. This is and will be achieved with lectures and workshops. We hope it will be a success and beneficial, gearing the teams up for a good, injury free season. Hopefully, it will filter through to conference and club level for that ripple effect hitting grass roots and club coaches.
You’ve taken over from Kate Cady, who has moved on to look after the Great Britain squad. How do you feel she has influenced you in your progression within English Ice Hockey?
Kate has been great, without her the programme wouldn't be where it is now, she really brought the professional edge to the programme and I'm sure she has with GB squads too. It was Kate who surprised me back in March asking if I would travel to Füssen with the U15 squad, I was totally shocked and it was a massive confidence boost (if not a little straight in at the deep end - thank goodness for GCSE German!!). Katie Davies had that initial influence on my introduction to the England programme, however, and for that I am so thankful.
Are you linking in with the Sports Therapy team at the University of Gloucestershire to provide additional help and support?
Not so much at the moment as we are midway through our selection process, but the Sports Therapy team at the university are always on hand to help which is a great comfort. It would be great to reintroduce the off-ice training camps as previously done. However the England National Team Programme (ENTP) has a whole new coaching set up, so it is something that would need discussing (if the university would have us that is!).
You are studying for a Masters - how is that going?
I enrolled IN January 2016 on the MSc Professional Practice in Sports Therapy programme at the University of Gloucestershire for two reasons. Firstly, I love to learn and wanted to study on a Masters programme that complemented my undergraduate degree but secondly I'd really like to become a lecturer in Sports Therapy. During my undergraduate studies I was asked to deliver Anatomy and Physiology Outreach practical lectures to sports students from colleges around the south west. This really sparked my desire to educate as it was great to see the students engaging in my sessions and leaving knowing more than when they entered (and that they enjoyed the process). It does give you a sense of accomplishment and that 'feel good factor'.
The Masters course is in no way easy but it has developed me as an individual to become more critical, and pushed me way out of my comfort zone in order to overcome stressful situations Above all though I have acquired a really quirky bunch of new friends in all fields of sport which I can draw upon and that is amazing.
You’re clearly a very busy Sports Therapist as you also work in rugby and a sports clinic as well – tell us a little about that.
Very busy!! Weekends. Evenings - what are they then? I am currently Lead Sports Therapist at North Bristol RFC and I have a great team of physiotherapists, sports therapists and sports massage therapists. Generally I work solidly from 11am Saturday morning through to 3am Monday morning with my Bristol team and also Swindon Wildcats (3 games per weekend in total). I also have a new student each year from the University West of England, so I get to step up as a clinical educator in the evenings, which not only allows the student to complete 80 hours of external placement but benefits me in terms of CPD toward my goal of becoming a lecturer. During the week daytime I have a casual flow of private patients which suits me nicely as I would like to keep this fairly flexible in order to eventually fill it with a lecturing role.
Graduate Sports Therapists are being recognised more and more for their knowledge, skills and abilities and English Ice Hockey has clearly recognised the value you can bring.
What would you say to other sports organisations who have not yet understood how valuable Members of the Society of Sports Therapist could be to their team, players and coaches?
They're missing a trick! But no, on a serious note I would say that the level of teaching and the content covered during the undergraduate and postgraduate Sports Therapy degree programmes is quite outstanding and massively underestimated. Funnily enough I studied Sports Therapy at the same time my close school friend studied Physiotherapy and she is in awe of the amount of musculoskeletal injury knowledge sports therapy students graduate with and has asked to shadow me in a sporting situation. I think that says a great deal and is a huge compliment to all those who work tirelessly to ensure the Sports Therapists associated with The Society of Sports Therapists are at the top of their game!