One of the most important people in my judo life is the one and only, Mac. He is the best physical therapist I’ve ever met and believe me with my list of injuries, I’ve met quite a few. He is super competent in his field and also with judo. Most physical therapists don’t know what judo is and the kind of movement and actions that take place in the sport. I’ve even had one ask me if the injury corresponded with my kicking and punching side. Seriously? Shake my damn head.
I first met Mac in Samoa a couple of years ago at my very first World cup event. He had flown him and his wife, Beth, out to Samoa so that he could take care of our team. During that time, I was in a lot of pain from a pretty severe injury and he was able to tape me up so that I could fight. I won the bronze. Since then, he has been taking care of me and my injuries. Being able to trust your medical team is huge. I trust Mac with my life.
I went to go see him here in Colorado Springs where he resides to put me back together. Not that the sports medicine staff at the Olympic Training Center is bad, but as soon as Mac treated me, I felt a million times better. I felt a difference right away. It was like magic. He used a technique called trigger point dry needling, where he sticks acupuncture needles in the injured area to help release the muscles to reduce pain and promote healing. It’s painful when he hits the right spot of the injury, but it is definitely worth it.
Not only does he treat all of our injuries, he used to sponsor athletes that he believes have the potential or talent. He understands our (judo athletes) monetary situation and wants to help out in more ways than just injury treatment. He swore to me that he will not spend that much for the next four years for the Rio Olympics, but knowing Mac, I’m sure it will get to about that price. Mac sees my potential and he believes in me. He doesn’t focus on my lack of medals and bad performances, but instead sees my talent. It’s great to have someone like him on my side.
Last but not least, Mac makes me want to be a physical therapist. I have been struggling with my future for a bit now with physical therapy as one of the options. I basically want Mac’s life. He takes care of injured athletes, helps a few of them monetarily, and travels all over the world to keep taking care of athletes and watch them compete. That sounds amazing to me.
Okay, I want to be honest.. blogging feels a little like homework to me. Good guess as to why I haven’t made an entry yet. I know it’s the new and cool thing to do especially as an athlete, so I will try my best to not look at it like homework and write it like I’m having a conversation with you all. Here we go..
At the moment, I am at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m trying to decide what will be best for my athletic career in terms of location. I’m growing to like it here even though, I find myself bored more often than not. On a Saturday afternoon in Seattle, I would probably be at the bouldering gym climbing walls and then finishing off with a nice session of power yoga. I will have to look into something similar if I were to make the move here. I am really liking the atmosphere and being surrounded by other athletes that have the same goals as me. I think one of the best parts is recognizing famous Olympians. For example, I was in the Sports medicine clinic yesterday and this morning and both times, I was fortunate enough to run into John Orozco (gymnastics). I wanted to yell out, “I follow you on twitter and instagram!”, but the awkwardness in me took over and I pretended like I didn’t recognize him and tried playing cool. Probably did not work. Same thing happened in the past with Ryan Lochte and Apollo Ohno. To put my body and injuries in the hands of these specialists (physical therapists, doctors, athletic trainers) that also take care of these top athletes, really gives me confidence that I will heal up fine and possibly go injury-free for the next four years. If I were in Seattle, I would have had to make an appointment for the following week to get my injuries checked out and then pay a shitload to have some mediocre physical therapist who specializes in geriatric therapy to tell me what I already know about my injuries. Here, I walk in, see a therapist who works with athletes on a daily basis, and be treated like I am one of their famous Olympians. All for free. I was also told that a nutritionist, sport psychologist, and personal trainer are all included.
Another positive factor for moving to Colorado is the high altitude. As soon as I landed in Denver, I could feel a difference. I had to run across the entire airport to make it to my connection flight and by the time I arrived to my gate, I was drenched in sweat and breathing hard. I am in better shape than that! Since being here for a few days, I have gotten better acclimated to the altitude and haven’t had an embarrassing display of sedentarism. However, I still feel extremely out-of-shape when on the mat, when back at sea-level, I feel like I can go forever.
Last but not least, I have a great relationship with the head judo coach. I have never had a good relationship with my past coaches, so I am excited to see how having a positive moral coach in my chair is going to effect my performance. The coach here genuinely believes in my judo and my potential, which is really important to me. Who wants a coach that feels like they HAVE to coach you and doesn’t believe in you? I have learned over my many years of training and competing to not rely on anyone else, including coaches, for your success. But there comes a time when you want to look over to the side and see someone that WANTS to be there and believes that you can win and make it all the way to Rio.