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An inside look at volunteering for sports medicine at the Olympic Training Center

In this edition of the blog, I’m taking a step back and sharing a really cool experience with you. If you’ve been following me, you are probably aware that I had the chance to spend 2 weeks volunteering at the Olympic Training Center here in Colorado Springs during the month of October. When I moved here 3 years ago, one of my goals was to get involved with the Olympic Committee. It took some time to build up my resume to something that would qualify me for a rotation. I networked, built up my skills, and volunteered. When I finally got the notice saying I had been accepted, it was such an amazing feeling!

As many of you know, the training center here in the Springs is the largest one for the Olympics here in the US. They have many resident athletes and several teams that have their main training facilities here. This includes boxing, wrestling, men’s gymnastics, and shooting. Fencing, swimming and several paralympic sports also do a lot of their training here. During my time as a volunteer at the Olympic Training Center, I was blessed with the chance to work with athletes from basically all of those sports and more.

I was on a team of 5 volunteers for those two weeks that came in from across the country. It was a mixture of other therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, and massage therapists. Their homes ranged from Atlanta to Portland and places in between. Of course, there is also a full-time staff of providers who are there on a day-to-day basis to keep these athletes training at the highest level.

These folks work their tails off to cover everything that needs to be done in a day. As volunteers, we filled in the cracks where we could. The full-time staff is usually booked out, so any walk-in appointments for treatment come to the volunteers. Practice coverage help was also needed during the two weeks. A few times, I was asked to cover events for the Men’s Gymnastics national team and the junior national camp.

a group of people doing exercises in a gym

The equipment and technology that they have is quite incredible! From plates on the floor that read the pressure going through different sides of the body to the treadmills that allow injured athletes to run without using full body weight, the toys that I got to use were top-notch! This part of the experience alone taught me quite a bit!

We took one afternoon to go watch the cycling team practice at the Velodrome in Memorial Park, which was really cool! I also spent a good portion of one day at different lectures discussing the evidence for certain practices and procedures in keeping athletes healthy, rehabilitated, and performing well. That was amazing to hear some of the great minds in the industry discuss their research.

On top of this, having access to the dining and workout facilities was great. The same strength and conditioning area that you see on the tours was available for me to use, and trust me, I took full advantage!! They have some of the nicest gym equipment, and the thought of working out in the same area of Olympic and Paralympic medalists is humbling. The dining area was great on top of everything. The athletes get a variety of choices that are not only healthy but actually delicious! I had no problem helping them out by eating there for every meal.

Overall, I have nothing but great things to say about my experience with this volunteer rotation. I was able to put my stamp on helping the greatest athletes in this country move forward with their goals of reaching Tokyo in 2020 or Beijing in 2022. I met many great healthcare providers and many great athletes that I plan to continue to stay in touch with. I’ll be keeping my eye out for some of these athletes in the next Olympic and Paralympic games!

So what’s next? I get put into a list of available providers to cover events for the US Olympic Committee. This means I could be asked if I’m available to go to local events for basically any sport. Or I could be traveling to an event.

I’m really excited to see what the future holds with this! Don’t worry, I have no plans to try going full-time! I will continue to be here serving the population of Colorado Springs and keeping everyone healthy and active! It’s ski/snowboard season, and I’m ready to get out there! I hope you are, too! If you would like to know more about what I do with Backcountry Physical Therapy, call me at 719-285-9670. I would love to chat!

a man standing with his arms crossed in front of him.

Dr. Scott Runyon

Backcountry Physical Therapy

We Help Mountain Athletes Not Only Recover From Injuries, But Build Them Back Stronger Than They Were Before, So That Injuries Are Less Likely To Happen Again!