Bethel trainer reflects on experience with USA hockey team

October 30, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Sports | Jared Nelson

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Bethel athletic trainer Jamie Dolieslager worked with Team USA during the Four Nations Cup in Finland. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Bethel University

Regardless of the endeavor, Jamie Dolieslager values human interaction. At Bethel, she teaches biokinetics and athletic training classes in addition to overseeing the operations of the Physical Wellness classes. Dolieslager relishes the chance to develop relationships with students and watch them mature over time.

In addition to her duties as a professor, Dolieslager works as the athletic trainer for the women’s soccer and hockey teams. As a result of her role with the hockey team, Dolieslager was given the opportunity to work with Team USA, the women’s national hockey team.

Dolieslager has a personal relationship with Travis Green, a Bethel alum and the massage therapist for the Minnesota Wild. Green is also the medical coordinator for Team USA when they visit the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn.

“A few years back, the team returned to Blaine from a trip to Finland, but they lost their stuff along the way,” Dolieslager said. “Word got around that I work up there with hockey and someone asked if they could borrow my key and use some of Bethel's gear. I helped them out and that’s how I got in initially.”

Dolieslager continued to maintain her relationship with Team USA, assisting with the team’s medical needs during a few of their camps at the Super Rink. This relationship led to Dolieslager being summoned to be the team’s athletic trainer for the Four Nations Cup in Finland and the pre-tournament camp in New York last fall.

“They picked me because Bethel allowed me to take time off and I was available to do both [the tournament and the camp],” Dolieslager said. The National Hockey League was locked out at the time and as a result, Dolieslager was not chosen to travel overseas with the team but her time in New York was something that will not soon be forgotten.

The camp took place in October of 2012 as Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the eastern seaboard. The camp was postponed two days because of the storm and they struggled with power issues in New York, but they were still able to have six productive days on the ice.

Dolieslager’s duties as an athletic trainer for Team USA were no different than her duties as an athletic trainer for Bethel. Treating a groin pull of an Olympic athlete is no different than treating a groin pull of a student-athlete. The biggest change is the scope and importance that her job entails.

“It’s just different because you’re playing for gold,” Dolieslager said. “At Bethel we're trying to win a conference championship or make it to the playoffs, which is great, but it’s a whole different level when you're playing for gold with USA on your chest."

In order to prepare for the heightened stakes, Dolieslager researched and studied the medical histories of the players. This helped build rapport and trust between her and the players and allowed their relationships to reach a deeper level.

“Everyone knew I was the newbie, but it was an instant acceptance,” Dolieslager said. “It was me working to build that trust so they could come to me and be confident that I could help them out.”

This, she said, is the essence of her job as an athletic trainer and is standard whether she’s with Bethel or Team USA.

“The basis of what we do everyday is relational,” Dolieslager said. “When an athlete comes in to get their ankle taped, they're not just coming in for their ankle.We talk about our days, how their test went or how their parents are doing. Everything is done relationally.”

The emphasis on intimacy isn’t something that Dolieslager just speaks about; it is something that is noticed by her peers and patients.

Sophomore Julia Perkins plays defense on the women’s soccer team and says that Dolieslager’s impact on the team cannot be overstated.

“Jamie does everything out of love and always has a smile on her face,” Perkins said. “There’s nothing better than having a trainer look at your injury with a caring heart.”

As a result of the various USA camps that Dolieslager has been apart of, she has begun to develop relationships with the team members, culminating in some life changing moments in New York last fall.

“I pray with athletes at Bethel when they get injured and I would ask the athletes if they were comfortable doing that in New York too,” Dolieslager said. “The conversations opened doors to great things as two people accepted Christ during that week.”

Dolieslager is extremely grateful that God gave her the opportunity to be in New York and work with athletes at the highest level.

Although her future with Team USA remains uncertain, Dolieslager plans on maintaining her relationship and aspires to be a part of a gold medal team.

In addition to winning, she looks forward to positively impacting the people around her, regardless of her setting.

“We’re constantly teaching our kids to be salt and light in dark situations,” Dolieslager said. “Hurricane Sandy didn't make this situation very fun. We were on the bus in traffic for two hours, but what do you do during those hours? You talk. You relate. You pray. You get to know people. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do what I'm teaching at such a high level.”

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