BY LIAM ROWE
Amanda Halls and Jackie Vandertuin got the experience of a lifetime as they put their skills and passion to work this past week assisting parathletes in Toronto.
Halls, a clinical director in the Athletic Therapy program, served as a medical lead at the Games and said that in all of her years, the Invictus Games has been the one event to impact her the most.
“Seeing how dedicated these athletes are to sport really reignites your passion as an athletic therapist,” said Halls. “Our job is to help people stay in the game and seeing these athletes succeed and just being able to compete really changed me and changed the way I’ll work with my patients.”
A graduate from the program in 2002, Halls sees firsthand how important it is that Sheridan allows faculty time to go work at these events.
“It’s fantastic,” said Halls. “When you’re able to come back and discuss with your students what an experience is like and maybe have it open their eyes to a new opportunity, it’s priceless.”
Alongside Halls was Vandertuin, a Sheridan Athletic Therapy professor.
“Essentially, I was responsible for anything related to on-field play,” said Vandertuin. “If there was any emergency or an athlete needed something, I was there to assist them.”
Admitting it was a little daunting at first because she’s never worked with parathletes before, Vandertuin now describes this as the best experience ever.
“This was all about the athletes,” said Vandertuin. “Dealing with these athletes and getting know them really leaves you with a new appreciation.”
Although only two current faculty members had the pleasure of working at the Games, Vandertuin explained that almost everybody that worked the Games was an alumnus of Sheridan, including Jason White.
“I was lead medical practitioner for the golf and para-ice hockey events as well as the Polyclinic,” said White.
A graduate in 2008, White now looks back on his time at the Games as a rewarding, uplifting and motivational.
“The stories, conversations and encounters with the athletes and Canadian Armed Forces medical team were inspirational,” said White. “Knowing how their journey started and the struggles they went through were incredible.”
As the Invictus Games finished up on Sept. 30, after eight days of competition, many lives have been changed forever.
It was a great experience,” said Vandertuin. “Athletes come in all shapes, sizes and abilities, and these people are true athletes.”