PHATS Member Spotlight – Jon Sanderson

Jon Sanderson, Head Athletic Therapist, Vancouver Canucks

PHATS: What made you want a career in the athletic training profession and how did you get your start?

JS: It was a way to combine sports medicine and stay involved as part of a team. Like a lot of us I started out by volunteering and helping out wherever I could to get experience.

PHATS: You were previously with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.  What is something you learned while working in Football that you?ve brought to the hockey world that you may not have seen without that experience?   

JS: The staff then was Billy, Kato, Red, me and Bob Park, who was the strength guy. 5 people to look after a football team and coaching staff, if one of the 5 of us didn?t do it then it didn?t get done. You learn to work hard and be part of a group. We had a great time though, Red and I still laugh about it.

PHATS: How do you see the role of the athletic trainer in professional hockey changing in the next 5-10 years?

JS: It?s so specialized now that day to day treatment, long term rehab, movement screening/correctives, dealing with each players individual ?team?, monitoring other players in the organization, dealing with doctors, specialists, insurance? these and others will be individual areas that the Head Athletic Trainer manages and coordinates under the umbrella of the Medical Department. That and on ice emergency care during games.

PHATS:  You?ll reach 1,500 games this year, congratulations!  What does this accomplishment mean to you?   

JS: That I?ve been fortunate to work with great people, the best part about this job is we do it together.

PHATS:  Travel is such a huge part of this profession.  What is one of your favorite hockey cities to visit and why?

JS:  Chicago, you can walk to all the shopping and restaurants downtown.  The United Center is great to work in and the atmosphere is like no other city. And Pippens.

PHATS:   Can you recommend any type of schooling, courses, or training that would benefit a young athletic trainer trying to break into this field given the way sports has changed so much over the years?

JS: Some sort of people managing skills and customer service. We?re now in the people business/service industry, athletic training is just the medium that we use.

PHATS: You are a regular at our conferences, besides the educational component, what would you say you benefit from most by attending year after year?

JS: The informal conversations with other Trainers. We all have similar jobs but it?s always interesting to hear how other teams problem solve and adapt to their particular situation. I always learn something that can make our staff better.

PHATS:  Do you have a professional mentor or Athletic Trainer/Therapist you admire?

JS: When I was going to school at Sheridan for Athletic Therapy I came home every summer to work.  My first summer back I called Billy with the Lions because I knew he was a Sheridan grad and asked if I could help out to get some experience. Every summer he let me do everything from treatments to taping, while I was there I watched how he ran the training room, how he interacted with coaches and players and how he handled difficult situations, he taught me what it takes to be a trainer in pro sports. I was lucky he took time for me, he?s not just a great trainer, he?s a special person.

PHATS:  What is one thing other Members would be surprised to know about you?

JS: I?m an open book.

Tell us about yourself, your family and your hobbies.

Married to my wife Catherine, we have 2 kids, Kate and Cooper and a dog named Bob.  I grew up in Vancouver and enjoy playing golf in the summer.

Photos courtesy of Jon Sanderson.

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