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An Athletic Trainer’s Olympic Dreams

Athletes are not the only ones with Olympic dreams.  For Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer Elizabeth Coleman, the Olympics are a perfect place to share her special talent too.

Lizy in front of the rings at the Olympic Training Center

It takes a lot of skill and dedication to help Olympic athletes deliver their peak performance.  Athletic trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, doctors, dietitians, coaches and other support staff all serve as a sort of a ‘pit crew’ to help the athletes succeed.

Elizabeth (Lizy) Coleman has been a physical therapist and athletic trainer for 25 years.  Prior to joining WakeMed, she practiced at Beaumont Hospital in Detroit and came to know many of the trainers and athletes associated with the Detroit Figure Skating Club – one of the top three figure skating training sites in the United States.  The experiences she had treating the athletes has fueled her desire to one day go to the Olympic Games.

To get to the Olympics as an athletic trainer, you have to be almost as dedicated as the athletes.  A trainer must have worked with a professional team, which Coleman did when she was the head athletic trainer for the Carolina RailHawks for three seasons.  A trainer must have experience treating athletes during large competitions.  Lizy has  spent countless hours volunteering for championship events like the Figure Skating Sectionals and Nationals in North Carolina and many events at the Detroit Skating Club.  A trainer must also become part of the national provider network for their chosen sport.

Lizy is well on her way to achieving her Olympic dreams, recently becoming part of the National Provider Network for U.S. Figure Skating and completing a two-week volunteer opportunity at one of the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Although she paid her own way to get to the Training Center and took vacation time from her real job treating outpatient rehab patients at WakeMed to volunteer, once onsite she shared transportation, accommodations and food with the athletes.  (Lizy confirmed that the athletes have it pretty good!)  She provided therapy for Olympic hopefuls including figure skaters, wrestlers, gymnasts, weight lifters and paralympics athletes.

Treating these athletes helps put physical therapists and athletic trainers at the top of their game.  Not only do they need to know the latest techniques and treatments, but they also have to be able to quickly fix issues athletes have had for some time but have ignored all while under tremendous pressure from athletes and coaches.

But the benefits are worth it.  Just think how it would feel to watch the Olympics through Lizy’s eyes.  She knows Charlie White and Meryl Davis, has met Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and many of the coaches from the U.S. Figure Skating Team.  And, one day, maybe Lizy will be there marching in with the athletes in the opening ceremonies and on the sidelines cheering the athletes on as well.