Long-tenured Athletic Therapist has the Hall of Fame calling after an illustrious career
Tara Sutherland was the head of a private clinic in Edmonton for a brief spell in early 1996. She saw a temporary position at StFX looking for athletic therapists. 23 years later? She is still here. Her reasoning?
“I love the community, and to work with students every day”
With her love of university life, it is no wonder she was a student at three of them. She attended Queen’s University, graduating with a BA in physical education. She then earned her diploma in sports injury management at Sheridan College, a quaint school in the Toronto area. After she obtained her certification in athletic therapy, a spell at the University of Calgary for a masters in kinesiology occurred in 1995. For Sutherland, her imbued enthusiasm for the job galvanizes students and athletes.
Speaking on the differences in technology and the job as a whole from her days in the 90’s till now, she commented:
“There is not too much of a difference, as we only assess the injuries and give recommendations, no diagnoses are involved. However, the technology now is a lot more advanced than before”
Of course, with the recent discovery of CTE and it’s gargantuan impact in the football community, the differences in how the athletes are treated are very striking.
“Back in 1996, the football team would practice sometimes two to three times a day. And they were doing so in worse equipment. There was less education into proper hitting techniques as well. Now, the practice times are much less, and the coaches do a great job of teaching safe hitting practices.”
Sutherland, along with her longtime colleague and friend, Dr. David Cudmore opened the Antigonish Concussion Clinic approximately ten years ago. (She and Cudmore could never pinpoint the exact time it was opened). The Clinic’s main goal is to give help to more than just athletes.
“My job at StFX is to assess athletes and so the Concussion Clinic is a way of giving back to the community, by affording them the opportunity to be treated and properly rehabilitated, whether it be a slip and fall, a car crash or anything in between.”
Sutherland keeps herself busy by being the lead athletic therapist at hockey, football, basketball games, while also teaching three human kinetic classes. To add on, because she does not do enough already, she has been the assistant coach of X-Women Rugby since 1998.
“It gives me a chance to be a coach, a different experience than always being the therapist during games. plus, I love the sport and I played it when I was younger.”
The holy grail of athletic therapy accomplishments was recently reached when she was inducted into the CATA (Canadian Athletic Therapists Hall of Fame). Her response to the news?
“Shock, humbled, loss for words. I was thinking it was maybe a wrong number! I have seen so many of my friends and colleagues, people I have looked up to, get into CATA, and for me to become a part of it was an unbelievable honour”.
Her plaque from the hall is still on her desk, as she has been contemplating putting it up in her office. She can be forgiven for not instantly adorning it on her walls, as they are riddled with jerseys, certifications and more plaques pertaining to her excellence of athletic therapy.
Who knows, maybe in 23 more years, her walls won’t be visible. And at this rate, working 23 more years is not out of the realm of possibility, with her unrelenting work ethic.