Massage student gets hands-on experience with Redskins players
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Aug 28, 2013, 13:00
The Washington Redskins called Richmond home for three weeks this summer, holding their preseason training camp in the city. While players practiced, their bodies took the pain of being sacked and tackled repeatedly throughout the day.
To ease their pain, the Redskins players teamed up with students from the ECPI University Massage Therapy Program, also giving the students the opportunity to work on world-class athletes.
One of these students was 26-year-old Prince George resident Candace Donald, who worked with the players for eight days during the training camp.
Donald, who is from Petersburg originally, has been in the Massage Therapy Program at ECPI for more than a year, and said the opportunity brought what she was learning in her textbooks during that time to life, giving her real world experience she isn’t able to get in the classroom, which is mostly females.
“In the classroom we work on each other,” Donald said. “To have those bodies in front of us, with an athlete’s muscle tone, it was very different.”
“In the book you would see a deltoid, but when you actually look at the player and you can actually see and work on it, it brings everything to reality,” Donald said.
Edward Simpson III, the Massage Therapy Program director at ECPI, said representatives from Bon Secours approached the school looking for someone to team up with the training camp and help provide massages for the players. Simpson put together a presentation about the program, which was then given to the trainers and representatives from the Redskins, who then decided that the ECPI students were a good fit.
Simpson said the school wanted to give the students this real world experience, which a lot of students elsewhere may never receive.
“We really wanted to give them this opportunity because it’s something you just can’t replicate in the classroom,” Simpson said.
The students worked alongside professional trainers during the training camp, which helped the students to learn as much from the real world experience as possible.
“Whenever I got the opportunity, I did speak to the trainers and see what they do, and the insight they had,” Donald said.
Each day the students came in, they would set up massage tables. The players would come in dressed in their workout attire, and the students would provide them with massages based on what each player needed or wanted.
The hands-on experience with the professional athletes gave students a real life-working situation, emphasizing that even though the players are famous athletes, they are still clients.
“It put them in the situation of learning how to deal with the ‘celebrity client’ and how to deal with confidentiality, and also understanding how to interact with people you see on television,” Simpson said. “Athletes are celebrities in today’s world, and understanding and maintaining professionalism is important when you’re working on someone that is famous.”
Donald, who now has five weeks left in the ECPI program, said the experience of working with the professional athletes didn’t make her nervous, but part of something important.
“When I saw them win their last game I kind of felt like I had a part in that,” Donald said. “Like we helped them stretch out and they won that game because we helped work on them.”
The training camp has an eight-year contract to be held in Richmond, and the partnership between the Redskins camp and the ECPI Massage Therapy Program will continue next year during the preseason training camp, giving even more local students the opportunity to bring their textbooks to life.