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University of Windsor Serves Up a Spell-Binding Trip for Zoe Hughes-Jones

University of Windsor Serves Up a Spell-Binding Trip for Zoe Hughes-Jones

Zoe Hughes-Jones was the 9th winner of The Society of Sports Therapists Student Travelling Scholarship to the University of Windsor in Canada. We heard about the first part of Zoe’s trip towards the end of last year and if you missed it you can catch up and read about it at:

Zoe was based for the first part of her trip at the Green Shield Sports Therapy Clinic, University of Windsor. While Athletic Therapist Kathy Harvie has now retired from the University Clinic, she is an integral and important part of the programme, not only as one of the interview panel but as the person who organises the schedule for the successful candidate, for when they are in Canada. Kathy and her husband John also hosted Zoe while she was in Canada, just as they had done for the previous 8 winners. Kathy has without doubt been instrumental in ensuring the longevity of this amazing trans-Atlantic relationship and for which The Society of Sports Therapists is extremely grateful.

Dave Stoute, a long-time colleague of Kathy’s now heads up the Clinic and he and his fellow Athletic Therapists proved tremendous mentors for Zoe. Following her time in Windsor, Zoe moved up to Toronto where Dr Loriann Hynes from York University and her family took up the mantle for the second part of her trip and they too created a wonderful programme for Zoe.

Here are Zoe’s reflections on what turned out to be yet another memorable Travelling Scholarship.

Can you describe how you felt on being introduced to the Green Shield Sports Therapy team and the University Gridiron football players.

When I was first introduced to the Athletic Therapy team here at the University of Windsor, I knew it was going to be a fantastic 5 weeks with them and I couldn’t wait to get started. They were all extremely welcoming and have offered me endless amounts of support throughout my time here.

My first encounter with the football players was the first day of camp. I had to report to the clinic at 6:30am so that they could be taped in time to be out on the field at 8am. This was when I first learnt how to tape an ankle the ‘Canadian way’. I was standing in the taping room and a large group of players all came walking in; and these guys aren’t small!! It was an interesting moment but they all started talking to me straight away; I think the English accent helped!

Taping is very important to football players and part of Canadian football heritage.  How did your taping skills stand up to the rigours of double practices? What new taping skills did you learn?

At the beginning, it was a case of learning the new taping techniques as to how the players liked it. Most of the older players were reluctant to let me tape them at the beginning as they had specific routines and liked certain people to tape their ankles. I made sure I got feedback from the players when I was taping so I could improve as I knew my taping technique was not the best to begin with. However, after double practices day in day out, I soon picked up the rhythm as we had many ankles to tape every practice. After a few weeks, players were asking me to tape their ankles which was great, to know they had confidence in me as a therapist.

I learnt how to tape ankles, thumbs, wrists, knees, feet, shoulders; come to think of it, pretty much everything as football players are always needing something taped! These skills are definitely something I will be bringing back to the UK.

How hard was it to establish confidence in the players to accept you as a competent therapist?

Establishing trust between therapist and player is an important aspect of what we do. This is a process that takes time wherever you may go, but the football players were really open in allowing me to treat them. The more they saw me work and help their team mates, the more they warmed to me and before I knew it, players were coming to me for help every day!

Was there such a thing as a typical day?

There was a rough outline for a typical day at the office, but every day was also very different! So, camp lasted for approximately 2 weeks which involved taping from 6:30am, out on the field for 8am until 10:30am, back in to do treatments, a very quick lunch break followed by a second lot of taping at 2pm, back out on the field for 4pm-6pm then back in for more treatment or ice tubs! This was a very busy 2 weeks but it was the best way to be integrated as it was all go go go!

During the training camp, it was first come first served in the clinic but this then changed to booking appointments afterwards as other sports were starting to come back. This then meant that Dave and Natalie, the other Athletic Therapist, were very busy with additional varsity sports, so I tended to look after the football players. It was great to do this and I got to learn a lot as I was seeing many different injuries. If I needed any advice or guidance, Dave or Natalie were always there. I felt like I was part of the team straight away and I am very grateful for that.

Every Friday, Mary Brannagan would come into the clinic at the University to treat the football players. Mary is a top Physiotherapist in Canada and I loved watching her work. She is sensational at what she does but it is also very perplexing to watch as the treatments she gives are so different to anything I’ve seen before.

You spent time pitch side and court side with the football team and the basketball team. Were your sports trauma skills called into action at all?

So, the majority of my time was spent with the football team due to their vast roster of approximately 85 players. I was at every practice and every game; both home and away. I spent some time with basketball and soccer for the additional experience but not much action as a therapist! My sports trauma skills were called into action most days with the football players. I had to deal with dislocated shoulders, dislocated elbows, AC joint injuries, sprained ankles, broken/sprained fingers, thumbs and wrists, concussions, contusions, turf burns and much more. I thoroughly enjoyed being tested all the time as in England I spend the majority of my time with soccer players where it is mostly ankle and knee injuries.

Do the basketball players wear much tape? Do any wear ankle braces?

From my experience, basketball players like their ankles taped, but starting from a higher point on the leg compared to the football players. This didn’t really change the technique, you just had to start your anchors higher up!

St Clair College, Windsor is also a ‘must’ visit on this programme - how did you spend your time there?

I was fortunate enough to spend a day with Kim Stroesser at St Clair College which I thoroughly enjoyed! Kim is Manager of Athletic Therapy. The facilities there were only a few years old so there were plenty of new tools to play with. The day before going to St Clair, there was a massive rain storm leading to severe flooding in the Windsor area so it meant a lot of the sports were cancelled due to the excess surface water. However, I was still able to experience working in the clinic with a handful of patients and also going out pitch-side for softball which was a new experience for me.

Did your trip to the Windsor Spitfires live up to expectation- I’m sure you had heard a lot about them?

I spent a day at the Windsor Spitfires with Athletic Therapist Aaron Boose and got to experience hockey for the first time. It was amazing!! You don’t appreciate how quick and how crazy the game actually is until you are sitting on the sidelines with players being slammed up against the wall in front of you and hockey pucks flying everywhere, so you have to duck out of the way or risk being hit by a flying lump of rubber travelling at speeds of up to 100 mph! Although being in the hockey rink was extremely cold, I got such a buzz from being in that environment that I forgot about the temperature most of the time! Joey Garland was unfortunately not present that day as he is on paternity leave until the end of the year. They also gave me a hockey puck to take home as a memento!

You visited the Loaring Physiotherapy Clinic in Tecumseh- how was your time there?

I had heard some amazing things about the Loaring Physiotherapy Clinic and I was not disappointed after the day I spent there. The whole team was extremely welcoming and I had many conversations about the differences between the Canadian and English ways of therapy. I spent some time with everyone who was working that day including Charlotte Loaring herself who is a physiotherapist and owner of the clinic. Her team with Derek, Dirouhi, Kaitlin, Dave, Sharon, Jen and Fran (just to name a few) were all fantastic at answering my questions and showing me what they did. It was a different experience from working with varsity athletes as their patients were everyday people just wanting to be pain free. One patient had the most impact on me – unfortunately I cannot reveal much due to confidentiality reasons- but this person had been in a life changing accident, was very lucky to be alive but was still fighting and working hard to improve their quality of life despite the severe injuries they had sustained. It really brings you back down to earth and that definitely reminded me of why I chose to be in this line of work.

For the second part of your trip you moved on to Toronto

Yes, I took the train from Windsor to Oakville where Professor Loriann Hynes picked me up from the GO station (train station). Loriann is the Athletic Therapy Programme Coordinator at the University. We then went back to her house where I met her husband Chris and their two daughters Taylor and Kenzie. Oh and not forgetting their energetic Portuguese water dog, Lago!

My first day involved hopping on a bus from just outside their house, over to the GO station and onto a train to Toronto. That was the day I visited the National Ballet of Canada with their therapist Paul Papoutsakis who was sensational. That was a different experience to say the least. I think I was just most shocked as to how flexible the dancers were compared to the football players back in Windsor! I assisted with a few treatments as they had a full schedule which was also helped by one of their student therapists, Maui. I managed to talk to a few of their dancers and I was in awe of how athletic they were!

Day 2 consisted of an early start and a trip to York University with Loriann. In the morning I sat in on some of the Athletic Therapy classes followed by a few hours spent in their clinic. I was given the opportunity to talk to their student therapists about what I do back in England and then answered the many questions they fired at me. It was crazy to think that I was in their shoes this time 3 years ago and now I am the one talking up at the front of class to them! Daunting to begin with, but I loved it!

Now let’s see, Day 3…. It was probably one of my favourite days in Toronto as I got to spend the afternoon and evening with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats; a professional Canadian Football Team. I couldn’t believe how welcoming everyone was and I loved every minute of it! The players included me in some of their banter (all about England of course) and they were all so friendly and understanding of my position. Being pitch-side for a professional football game was definitely an experience I will never forget! I helped with setting up for the game, making sure the players were ready to go out on field and then assisted the therapists during the game with anything they or the players needed. I will be forever grateful that Claire and her team allowed me to work with them for that game and their student therapist Amanda who showed me the ropes.

The Saturday, or Day 4, consisted of a chilled morning after the late night game, then Loriann and Kenzie took me to downtown Oakville which was beautiful! We got ice cream and brownie cookies (recommended by Kenzie) and walked along the river with views of Toronto and the CN tower. There were also some guys on jet skiis doing tricks; one of them fell off which made us all cry with laughter for quite a few minutes! We then had a BBQ at one of their friend’s houses and I was also introduced to Ice Wine in chocolate glasses; amazing and would highly recommend it!

Sunday was my last day with the Hynes family so they took me to Niagara Falls! WOW! That was such an experience and it was absolutely beautiful. Taylor, Kenzie and I went behind the falls on a little excursion which was hilarious as we all got a bit wet! We went into the arcade and then got poutine (another Canadian speciality) from Smokes Poutinerie. It consists of fries, gravy, cheese curds and then a selection of toppings such as pulled pork, bacon, beef and so many more. I got the bacon double cheeseburger poutine – needless to say it did not disappoint.

In addition to downtown Oakville and Niagara Falls, I also managed to explore a bit of Toronto. I walked past the Rogers Centre where the Toronto Blue Jays play (baseball), over to the CN tower and down the riverfront which was picturesque on such a sunny day.

For the first part of your trip you were staying with Kathy Harvie and husband John and of course Andy and Amos –  tell us about some top moments

I had so many good moments whilst staying with Kathy and John. Kathy’s cooking is just out of this world (I still think she should write her own cook book) and that was accompanied by John’s talents on the BBQ. Homemade Latte’s on the front porch most mornings were definitely a perk and I was even treated to a slice of cake or peach galette that Kathy had made the day before. Andy and Amos were the cutest, most loving dogs and were always excited to see me when I got home from work. One thing they didn’t like was a ginger cat that used to lay under the bush at the front of the house; they would bark like crazy to scare it away! We had many discussions over food and laughed at the most random of things so there was never a dull moment in that house.

Name three things that made you think or say “wow” during your trip?

There are far more than three things that I could comment on here, but my top three would be the amount of tape they use, the first football game and being pitch-side at a professional football game. So, the amount of tape that has been used since day one of camp has been crazy! We can easily get through a box of tape per practice which is something you don’t tend to see in sports back in England. I couldn’t believe how much taping they would do at the beginning but having been there for 5 weeks, I can now see why; football takes its toll on the body! Secondly, my first football game with the Windsor Lancers – I cannot describe how much I loved that day from pre-game taping, to watching the players run out of the tunnel to a pre-mixed song just like on TV, to then being pitch-side. I must admit, I was rather confused at the rules of the game to begin with, but the players taught me the basics and I learnt more and more every game. I loved every game after that just as much as the first! Last but not least, spending the day with a professional football team; the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was just like being in another world. The facilities were sensational, the players and staff were so welcoming and full of banter of which I was involved in plenty with the English accent!

I guess listing 2 inspirational moments will be hard too

I think everyone who has previously been to Canada on this internship will agree with me when I say that Dave’s taping skills are out of this world. When a player came to you asking for a tape job that Dave had done on them previously, all other therapists would look at each other and say whilst laughing, “another Dave special”. He comes up with the craziest of tape jobs and if I can tape even half as well as Dave can in my career, I will be happy! It was like watching an artist at work and I found myself mesmerised many times whilst watching him tape.

My second inspirational moment would have to be the trip in its entirety. This experience has inspired me to become the best therapist I can be and I will be forever grateful to everyone who made it so enjoyable.

Is there anything you would do differently if you had your time again

I honestly do not think I would change anything about my time in Canada. I have had the best time with some amazing people and would not change it for anything! I just wish it could have been for longer!

Why do you think this is a good thing for a graduate sports therapist who is a Member of the Society to do– how do you think it will help you in the future?

There are no words to describe how invaluable this experience has been for me. It was such a fantastic opportunity and I have learnt so much from everyone I have worked with in both Windsor and Toronto. I cannot encourage our graduates enough to at least apply for this opportunity; I promise you will not regret it! I have a newly found love for football and can definitely say I have made some friends for life whilst creating a Canadian family over here. I am eager to put everything I have learnt to good use now I am back in England and I will definitely be going back to Canada. I have also caught myself staying up late to watch the CFL and NFL games on TV – they officially have me hooked!

There are many people with whom I have spent time with whilst being in Canada that I would like to thank.

Dave, Natalie & Adam – Green Shield Sports Therapy Clinic, University of Windsor For the endless amount of support that you have offered me as therapists and the constant laughs we have had whilst working at the University. I cannot thank you guys enough for having me in your clinic and letting me experience the Canadian way of sports/athletic therapy. I have learnt invaluable amounts from you all.

University of Windsor Lancers Football (Players & Staff) – You are by far the biggest squad of players and staff I have ever worked with (approx. 85 and 15 respectively)! You guys let me practise my taping on you, even when it wasn’t the best at the beginning, but you always let me practise and thus allowing my taping skills to progress. Thank you to the coaching staff for making me feel a part of the team every day at both practice and games. For the endless laughs and celebrations on the side lines to learning the rules of football (which was not easy)! You all made me feel so welcome from day 1 and I will be forever grateful.

Matt – To my right hand man on the sidelines, a great student therapist and a great guy! We spent pretty much every day together taping ankles, covering turf burns and dealing with the high demands of football. I wish you all the best in your endeavours on becoming an Athletic Therapist; your hard work will pay off!

Kathy & John – I cannot thank you two enough for everything you have done for me. Without you both, this opportunity would not have been possible. You looked after me for 5 weeks, which I know couldn’t have been easy having someone else live in your home, but you treated me like family and that is something I will never forget.

Professor Graham Smith & Maggie McNerney – Graham, I remember when you first came to the University of Chichester to talk about this opportunity; everything you said about it was so accurate! An invaluable learning experience with some outstanding people; thank you so much to you both for choosing me on interview day and offering me endless support ever since.

Loriann, Chris, Taylor & Kenzie – What a week I spent with you guys! I remember how shy the girls were when I first got there – that didn’t last long. By the end of the week, I felt as though I had gained two new sisters! Thank you to Loriann and Chris for organising everything for me from transport to excursions; I thoroughly enjoyed watching Loriann play hockey and the girls play soccer. My time with you all will truly be cherished.

I would also like to thank the following people for their time and support during my stay in Canada:

University of Windsor Women’s Soccer

Claire Toffelmire (Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Paul Papoutsakis (National Ballet of Canada)

Kim Stroesser (St Clair College)

Aaron Boose (Windsor Spitfires)

Charlotte Loaring (Loaring Physiotherapy)

Mary Brannagan (Physiotherapist)

Eric, Mike and Mona (University of Windsor)

THANK YOU to my new Canadian family !!!!!!!

Professor Graham N Smith, Chairman of the Society of Sports Therapists said:

‘Our thanks once again to all our Canadian friends who played such a big part in making this such a brilliant and pleasurable experience for Zoe. The Society of Sports Therapists is very proud of the relationship that has been built up over the last 9 years with so many colleagues but in particular those at the University of Windsor, and especially Kathy Harvie and Dave Stoute and also Joey Garland (Windsor Spitfires), Charlotte Loaring (Loaring Physiotherapy) and of course Loriann Hynes in Toronto. We are proud of the relationship we have and also of our graduates.’

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