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Spotlight on: Society Member Kristian Weaver

Kristian Weaver was the first winner of The Society of Sports Therapists Travelling Scholarship to the University of Windsor, Canada back in 2009.  We chatted to him about his career to date, which has taken many interesting turns and what the future might hold

How do you feel the University of Windsor Travelling Scholarship benefitted you both you as a person and in your career?
The University of Windsor Travelling Scholarship created the foundation to my career as a Sports Therapist. I flew out to Windsor, Ontario unsure of what to expect, having recently completed my degree programme and with the new title of Graduate Sports Therapist! The experience that I gained from working with colleagues and athletes was unforgettable and I was able to put into practice the skills that I had gained over the previous three years. Although I knew the skills, it was not easy – the intensity of working with hundreds of athletes on a daily basis was relentless during the initial training camp, a real insight into the world of an Athletic Therapist. Not only did I develop as a Sports Therapist on a rocket-like trajectory; I also developed as a person learning to be confident, communicate effectively, build new relationships and adapt to different environments.

Tell us about your career to date and what you are currently doing?
I graduated with a First-Class Honours degree in Sports Therapy from the University of Central Lancashire in 2009 and subsequently went on to work with three professional football academies, talent camps with young Great Britain athletes and travelled to Europe and North America for competitions, most notably with the English Ice Hockey Association. As a result of working with so many colleagues and athletes in a variety of sporting environments and settings, I have been exposed to excellent practices which I have stolen (don’t tell anyone), combined and moulded into what I think are outstanding practices. I have created a network of both trusted practitioners and friends along the way who I continue to be in contact with.

I also worked on an initiative run jointly by The Society of Sports Therapists, the Youth Sport Trust and five Sports Colleges. I took up a position of Sports Therapist in a Birmingham school which continued for a period of three years.  I worked with a variety of athletes aged 11-18 across ten different sports at both national and international level. This was a great experience in my first full-time role because I was able to work closely with the athletes on a daily basis with access to state-of-the-art facilities and a schedule that I shaped. I learned to be flexible with athletes, understanding the pressures that were placed upon them and adapting practices to suit their sports (some of which I had not been exposed to previously such as artistic gymnastics, slalom canoeing and high-performance dance). The most enjoyable aspect of the role was working with athletes who had lots of enthusiasm for their sport as well as the dedication required to compete on the biggest stages in the world.

More recently I studied for an MSc in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University to add an extra string to my bow. As a result, I gained employment as a Lecturer in Sports Therapy at Edge Hill University in 2014, where I have been since, as well as working in a professional football academy and treating elite sports people privately. The Masters degree increased the depth of my knowledge in the area of human exercise and performance, which I now use to aid in the delivery of anatomy and physiology modules and the wider context of Sports Therapy. Furthermore, it provides the students with a great experience in the laboratory environment, enhancing their understanding of the mechanisms associated with high level performance.

In the last couple of months, I have set up an online Mentorship Programme for Sports Therapy and Performance to help practitioners bridge the gap between qualifying from a degree programme and becoming an established Sports Therapist.  It contains aspects that I wished I had had access to or been able to interact with in my early days after qualifying as a Sports Therapist like networking opportunities, journal club, tutorials and informal group chats where practitioners can learn from one another.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for Student Sports Therapists?
I think the biggest challenge for Student Sports Therapists is to gain valuable placements which will further enhance their ability to clinically reason assessment and treatment and apply appropriate techniques. Secondly, upon graduation the toughest task is to consider all of the excellent skills that have been taught throughout the degree and utilise these at interviews and within future employment. However, this is an exciting time when Graduates can learn what suits them as practitioners, based upon the scientific evidence as well as their skills, experience and personality.

What are you ambitions for the future?
I am hoping that I can continue to inspire and educate Student Sports Therapists in my role as a Lecturer and that I can further develop my research profile around two main branches of the female athlete and ultrasound imaging. Currently, I am also spending time expanding the online Mentorship Programme which is attracting more and more interest; therefore I plan to develop this into a great resource for Sports Therapists.

If you would like to know more about Kristian and his current work, he can be found at:

www.kristianweaver.com

www.kristianweaver.com/mentorship

Social media platforms using the handle ‘@kristianweaver_’

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