Stacey Kisil: Certified athletic therapist, Toronto Argonauts

As the Argos' athletic therapist, I.

As the Argos’ athletic therapist, I assess and treat injuries and do treatments and tapings before practice for players who need them. We’re responsible for hydration at practice and treatments after, and we attend to all those things during games as well.

An athletic therapist is similar to a physiotherapist but not exactly the same. Our profession tends to be a little more aggressive with rehab due to the nature of our patients. A lot of athletic therapists work with physiotherapists, but we also have training that is similar to what a paramedic does. If there is an injury on the field, we need to undertake protocols, whether it’s a fracture or a concussion or something worse like a heart episode.

I did my bachelor of science in kinesiology with a minor in psychology at McMaster University. I worked at a physiotherapy clinic for a year as a kinesiologist before going to Sheridan College to do my bachelor of applied health science in athletic therapy. I wasn’t quite happy in the physiotherapy clinic so I explored different options. I looked into sport physiotherapy because I wanted to work with more active and younger individuals. 

I’m personally involved in sports and intramural sports and played for a women’s basketball league at night for a couple of years. If you have the mindset of an athlete, you can communicate with them a little bit better.

What I learned in the Sheridan program is very transferable to what I do now. University is great, but they teach you on paper and out of a textbook. At Sheridan, you learn on paper and in a lab – how to do assessments, rehab programs and treatments. Sometimes we would blend things – a rehab into a strength and condition program, for example. What you learn in the classroom is almost exactly what you do in the real-life setting.

Some people prefer a clinical, 9-to-5 setting, but I’d prefer to put in 12- or 13-hour day doing something I like to do. I appreciate the team aspect of my job, and you get that team approach more when you work with professionals. 

It’s fun being the only woman involved with the team. Of all the operations staff, I’m the only female, and the guys treat me well. There are women working in the front office downtown, but we practise up at Downsview Park. For a woman, getting work with a professional men’s football team is an achievement. Not a lot of teams take women.

A good athletic therapist needs to be organized and assertive, especially when dealing with coaches or parents. If you have to take a player out of the game, the player or their parents might insist he or she should stay in. I’ve had experience with Junior A hockey, and luckily the coaches and staff have trusted and respected me when I’ve had to take a player out. I’ve always been strong-minded, a personality trait I got from my mom.

My class at Sheridan started out with 60 students, but by the time we graduated we were 40. Yes, the program is hard, but when you’re dealing with someone’s health, you should know what you’re doing. 

I was really pushed to be my best, which is what I expect from myself and from my peers as well.

Where to study athletic therapy/kinesiology

Brock University (St. Catharines) Bachelor of kinesiology: $6,466.90/year.

Lakehead University (Thunder Bay) Bachelor of kinesiology: $5,907.95/year.

Laurentian University (Sudbury) Bachelor of kinesiology: $8,875.00/year (plus fees).

McMaster University (Hamilton) Bachelor of science in kinesiology: $6,788.29/year (plus fees).

Queen’s University (Kingston) Bachelor of science in kinesiology: $7,065.03/year.

Sheridan College (Oakville) Bachelor of applied health sciences in athletic therapy: $8,781/program (plus fees).

University of Guelph (Guelph) Bachelor of applied science in kinesiology: $3,442.03.year.

University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Toronto) Bachelor of health sciences in kinesiology: $6,040.26/year.

University of Ottawa (Ottawa) Honours bachelor of science in human kinetics: $3,254.45/semester.

University of Toronto (Toronto) Bachelor of kinesiology: $6,040/year.

University of Waterloo (Waterloo) Bachelor of science in kinesiology: $6,100/year.

University of Western Ontario (London) Bachelor of arts in kinesiology bachelor of science in kinesiology: $7,321.93/year.

University of Windsor (Windsor) Bachelor of human kinetics: $3,595.55/semester.

York University (Toronto) Athletic therapy certificate Bachelor of arts in kinesiology and health science Bachelor of science in kinesiology and health science: $6,907/year.

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