Print Edition: April 10, 2013
Every year, 140 varsity athletes compete for our proud university. Whether it is on the court, pitch, green or water, our UFV varsity athletes spend countless hours honing their bodies and skills. Needless to say, the constant physical wear and tear that comes with such rigorous training leads to aches, pains and injuries. It is an unavoidable part of being an athlete – unfortunate, but a fact of life.
Lucky for our Cascades, there is a professional mechanic who is charged with keeping the components of the green machine running smoothly. One woman whose job is quietly treating and preventing injuries daily for our entire varsity athlete population.
That woman is Sarah Eckhart. She has been the head athletic therapist at UFV for our eight varsity teams for four years and counting. It is Eckhart’s job to ensure that athletes are treating their bodies properly and getting the care they need to be able to compete.
Originally from Victoria, Eckhart is a graduate of Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. Sarah received her postgraduate certificate in Athletic Therapy from Mount Royal University.
The task of dealing with so many athletes essentially singlehandedly is daunting. One look at her schedule and you start to wonder how she manages to function in this hectic environment. Most days see Eckhart spending long hours in the clinic treating athletes, often missing her lunch to help out the straggling athlete who forgot to sign up. After a long day of battling and butting heads with often stubborn athletes who refuse to rest their injuries, Eckhart packs up and heads to class where she teaches night classes for the kinesiology and physical education faculty at UFV.
But despite its numerous demands, Eckhart maintains that the job’s rewards outweigh its demands.
“To be able to see an athlete progress through their five-year career and to help them reach their athletic goals is something I truly enjoy,” she said.
She further stated that relationships that she gets to build with the athletes are one of the numerous perks of the job.
“Often you are seeing athletes daily and helping them through injuries,” she explained. “The relationship you build is a reward in itself in this profession.”
Athletic therapy is a profession which specializes in emergency care, prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders in athletes and the active population. Eckhart also works in cooperation with physicians and other medical staff to treat athletes when the situation demands it.
The demands—140 athletes who come in with a huge variety of injuries and medical needs—seem overwhelming at times, but Eckhart not only manages to survive but thrives in this setting.
In addition to treating athletes, Eckhart is in charge of her staff of student trainers who work with individual varsity teams. It is her job to mentor these students and support them in their task of working on the day to day medical issues of their respective teams
On the surface Eckhart looks like a fairly valuable member of the Cascades team. The truth is her role goes so much further than her job description. She also serves as a mentor, counsellor and constant source of information and inspiration for young minds around her.