Athletic Therapy and the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show

My name is Jackie Caione, owner of Champion Athletic Therapy.  I have been with the Young Canadians and the Grandstand Show since 2013, acquiring the position when the floods took out the home of the physio who had been with the show for decades before. Karen has become a great friend and colleague. She asked that I take it over, and continued to work with us over the years in a smaller role. It was an excellent opportunity to bring Athletic Therapy into the show, working with all of the young dancers and guest performers over the years, and building a great Athletic Therapy team! 

Nothing beats the excitement of the Calgary Stampede in the summer. We caught up with athletic therapist, Jackie Caione, owner of Champion Athletic Therapy, to let us in on a bit of the Stampede action as the athletic therapist for The Young Canadians.

With Stampede in full swing, and as an athletic therapist supporting The Young Canadians, what does your day-to-day look like? 
Organizing the medical team for the Grandstand show starts in May, connecting with our Athletic Therapy team in preparation for the rehearsal week that starts mid to late June. Rehearsal days are long, with 2 rehearsal times a day. Although the Young Canadians audition in August, and start their practice throughout the year, we only see them starting in June.  They have their own therapists during the year whom they see for treatment of any injuries outside of Stampede week. Inventory is taken at the end of each Stampede and a list is prepped for the following year. In June, I’m under-stage before rehearsals to organize our supplies and ensure our inventory is ordered before we start. The medical room is cleaned and supplies are organized, ready for rehearsal week.  Generally, rehearsal week is a little quieter to start, and because of the long days, we are there as injuries present. During stampede week, we are under-stage by 8:30pm to prep the performers for the show.

What are some of the most common injuries you encounter during the 10 days of Stampede? 
It can vary greatly year to year! This year, we have had severe muscle cramping due to dehydration with some of our guest performers who are not used to our dry Calgary climate! RSI’s, Plantar Fasciitis, slips, trips and falls, minor skin lacerations, bruises, whiplash, concussions, blisters and burns, sprains and strains to name a few! And every now and then, fireworks find their way into someone’s eye. If you have ever seen a performance, most end in the classic hands up head up pose, looking towards the sky! Most injuries are minor in nature and we work to keep the performers in the show as safely as possible. The fun part is it’s never predictable!

What pieces of advice do you find yourself sharing with the youth in Young Canadians?

It’s a great opportunity to offer education regarding nutrition for performance, the importance of staying properly hydrated and understanding their own limitations. The kids are as young as 8-9, up to 18 years old. Their overall health, fitness and training practices have come a long way in the 10 years i have worked with TYC!

Tell us, what about some of the perks being an AT for the Young Canadians?
Working with the TYC and Grandstand Show requires accreditation and security passes to access the Stampede park and under stage. Our pass can be used all week long to get into the stampede for free concerts, as well as a free parking pass, and tickets to Sneak-a-peek to enjoy with our family and friends.

Is there something unique about being the onsite athletic therapist for Young Canadians that sets you apart from other organized sports teams or working in a clinic?
What’s unique about working with the TYC and performers is that their rehearsals run right into the show with only one day break from mid June to mid July! These kids and performers work extremely hard, and both rehearsals and the show go very late, until 11 p.m. at night. The show during stampede starts at 10pm, and we are on site by 8:30 p.m. getting everyone ready.
From the eyes of an AT, can you share some standout moments during the Stampede that you get to experience?    I love the energy at the beginning of Stampede week – the excitement everyone has to perform in front of a huge and amazing crowd every night. Everyone is exhausted by mid-Stampede but the last show is the best fo all! The energy is intense and emotions are high! The kids performed their hearts out by this time. There are tears of happiness and sadness that it’s come to an end. It is a huge commitment and incredible achievement for everyone involved. I’m always proud to be part of the show. The performers always appreciate that we are there.

What is one thing you want people to know about Athletic Therapy in the field?
Our challenges still lie in the lack of education of our entire scope of practice. Athletic Therapists are so incredibly skilled in the field, in emergency care and life saving skills. We are committed to the health and safety of our athletes, as well as their success! We know how to keep them safely in the game and when we need to pull them out, how to help them rehab to be stronger, faster and healthier. We conduct ourselves with the highest professionalism and ethics. I am and will always be proud to be an Athletic Therapist.

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