An in-depth look at the responsibilities of head athletic therapist Jennifer Martins

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Graphic by Kash Patel

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s varsity football team gets a lot of attention during the season due to the exciting nature of the sport. 

But what often goes under the radar is the work the team puts in behind the scenes. 

One of the biggest reasons behind the football team’s massive success over the years is the outstanding coaching staff, and one of the most important people on the staff in recent years has been head athletic therapist, Jennifer Martins. 

Martins began her Laurier career in 2014. 

The head athletic therapist’s job is one of the most important ones on the coaching staff. 

“My job is the health and well-being of the athletes. I am there to support them from a physical standpoint, sometimes it extends to mental. During the season, what I will do is complete all their medicals after every practice and every game for anything that comes up. With football, there’s a lot of things going on, whether that’s minor stuff to strains and sprains, to the more serious on-field acute injures that are potentially broken bones and more significant things,” Martins said.  

“I have my students that help me with that. We try to organize and see everybody as quickly and as safely as possible from the day-to-day. I have regular clinic hours where guys can sign up to see me and I work as fast as I possibly can because our timelines are quite different from the general public since the athletes have to be back as soon as possible to play. I try to find that fine line between safety and getting them back to the way they want to be playing.” 

They’re also lifting four to five times as week so that also causes some injuries. I’m actually busier than I would like to be in the offseason,” Martins concluded.

One of the things that makes Martins’ job challenging is the constant juggling of responsibilities. Martins has to focus on dealing with every athlete in a different way since the roster features numerous personalities that require careful management. 

“I have to juggle a lot of things like pushing the boundaries on rehab, therapy, exercises, bracing, recovery, etc. No matter what they need, we’ll try to work with it and get them feeling good for practices and games. Seeing that there’s a team of 100 athletes, they all have different personalities, different stressors, different things that make them want to play,” Martins said.  

“It’s [about] managing those different personalities, finding what works for them, whether it’s pushing them or sitting back and letting them understand things a little more.”

“Some of the athletes are more curious, so you explain to them the anatomy behind it and some of them don’t care, they just want to be back playing football. So that’s definitely part of it, reading the individual and then I have to modify what I’m doing so that it works for them,” she added.

Even though the football team has a longer off-season than most of the other varsity teams, the work for the players and the staff does not stop once the season is over.  

“In the offseason, the hours are a little less insane. We’re not working 15 hours a day, but I’m still rehabbing the injuries that [the athletes] needed surgeries for after the season. So we’re doing the rehab [therapy] and the preventative therapy. Guys that maybe suffer from a lot of chronic hamstring strains, so as we push for next season, we want to get them as strong as we can.”

“The athletes do actually practice every Friday during the offseason, so things obviously come up from that as well.”

They’re also lifting four to five times as week so that also causes some injuries. I’m actually busier than I would like to be in the offseason,” Martins concluded. 

Jennifer Martins is evidently one of the most important people on the football team’s coaching staff and the Hawks’ success and great overall physical condition is a testament to the tremendous work that she done with the athletes every year. 

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