By Justin Grones (@JustinGrones)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – With the athletics season complete at Green Bay, assistant athletic trainer Callie Bartel of Prevea Sports Medicine kicked off her summer with a trip to Chula Vista, Calif., to serve as an athletic trainer for the U.S. Paralympic throwing team from May 20-26. During her life-changing experience, Bartel was the primary athletic trainer for eight Paralympic throwers participating in a camp prior to the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field Nationals set for next month in San Antonio.
She received the opportunity to work at the camp through a connection at St. Scholastica, where she received her master’s degree in Athletic Training in 2011. Her supervisor during her two years at the Duluth, Minn. campus was originally scheduled to attend the camp, but was forced to cancel and find a replacement. Bartel’s name was thrown in the mix of potential replacements, and just weeks later she found herself in southern California with one of the most fulfilling experiences of her young career.
“It was an inspiration to work with these athletes because even though they might have been injured and forced to live life differently than they had envisioned, they make the most out of life and stay extremely motivated,” Bartel said.
Bartel had previously worked with track and field athletes while employed at Adams State, but had never worked with Paralympic athletes prior to last week’s Chula Vista camp. She said most things were the same as working with any athlete, but there were a few differences.
“A lot of the injuries these athletes were living with I didn’t have much experience with, so it was interesting to learn the different types of stretching and rehab they do each day,” Bartel said. “They’re extremely dedicated to their sport and their health while maintaining strenuous training plans.”
During her time at the camp, she was able to get to know the athletes on a personal level and learned that many had not been involved with throwing prior to their injuries. Many Paralympic athletes, she learned, begin competing in a track and field event after an injury even if they never competed in that particular sport in the past. Bartel also learned how proud these athletes are of their accomplishments, and that they aren’t afraid to share stories of their injuries and how they’ve changed each of their lives.
“The amount of support they have from their family, friends and fellow athletes is incredible,” Bartel said. “One woman let me hold her Bronze Medal from the London Paralympic games last summer, but then she told me I couldn’t just hold it, I had to wear it. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life.”
While at the camp Bartel learned just how in-tune Paralympic athletes are with their bodies, and how skilled they are at their respective sports. She talked with a blind high-jumper and watched a women’s rugby contest, and also saw firsthand just how much work goes into being a thrower from a wheelchair or seated position.
“Their skills at their respective sports and the overall knowledge they have of each sport and their body was incredible—most athletes come to an athletic trainer and say their knee hurts or their ankle is sore. These athletes would come to me and tell me their Gastrocnemius muscle in their knee needed to be stretched,” Bartel said.
A 2009 graduate of UW-Green Bay and a 2011 graduate of The College of St. Scholastica, Bartel began working with Phoenix student-athletes last fall. During her short time with the program, she’s impressed Green Bay’s Director of Sports Medicine and Performance Jeremy Cleven, who also serves as the department’s head athletic trainer.
“I was very excited that we were able to add Callie to our staff earlier this year because of her knowledge and work ethic,” Cleven said. “She’s made the right business connections and received this amazing opportunity as a result, and did a fantastic job with it as I expected her to.”
With the Phoenix Bartel’s sport responsibilities include volleyball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s Nordic skiing and men’s and women’s tennis. When she’s not working with Green Bay’s student-athletes, Bartel looks forward to being as involved as possible with Paralympic athletes in the future.
“This was an incredible experience and something I would definitely like to do again,” Bartel said. “The biggest thing I took away from this was just how inspiring these athletes are—it’s truly amazing to get to know them and learn their stories, and it’s something I look forward to doing again in the future.”
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.
Follow us on Twitter: @GBPhoenix and @JustinGrones.
Like Green Bay Phoenix Athletics on Facebook.