McGowen patches em up at Winter X Games
UNM, Susan McGowen trains athletic trainers. For sports cable
network ESPN, shes the director of sports medicine. Recently
she spent five days in Aspen, Colo., heading up a 20-member
medical team providing assistance to 280 athletes from around
the world participating in ESPNs Winter X Games.
of the Department of Physical Performance and Development in
the UNM College of Education, McGowen teaches students that
teaching athletes to avoid injury is as critical as treating
injuries. The Winter X Games, she said, offer her students,
and other interns, exposure to sports not seen at collegiate
or high school levels.
X Games are truly Xtreme: all kinds of snowboarding competitions
superpipe, X, and slopestyle; Moto X motorcyclists
performing stunts off snow jumps; ski slopestyle, and snow cross/snowmobile
theyre extreme athletes doesnt mean these masters
of the snow get hurt more often than other athletes, McGowen
said. These athletes are professionals. They are the best
of the best, she said, adding that the average age is
26 and that many of the injuries she and her crew treated occurred
during training, not competition.
took care of 77 injuries, but only two broken bones and a few
knee sprains. We had an assortment of strains, contusions and
a few minor concussions, she said.
said that the X games have a strong commitment to preparation,
but risk cant be eliminated. Its up to me
to prepare myself and my staff for it, she said.
which included trainers, physicians and other certified athletic
trainers, came from across the country.
brought four senior students along Diana Padilla, Felipe
Mares, Adrienne Kelley and Sara Briggs. Clinically, it
was a wonderful, Padilla said. The experience exposes
you to a setting where everything happens quickly, you respond
and your confidence builds. Another benefit was seeing
and treating different kinds of injuries than those normally
seen in a collegiate or high school training room.
the student interns were new to the X scene, McGowen wasnt.
Shes served as ESPNs director of sports medicine
since 1995. Shes wrapped and taped injuries at Winter
and Summer X Games as well as Timber Sports and Dog Events
dogs earn medals for jumping off piers into the water. Shes
worked fly-fishing and bass competitions and will be working
the Global X Championship in San Antonio in May. Shell
also be preparing a crew to travel to the Canadian site of the
with ESPN came in St. Louis in 1994 when the U.S. Olympic Festival
came to town. I practically papered the vice presidents
office with letters and my resume so that I could do sports
medicine for the festival, she said.
who hired her is now ESPNs executive director of the X
games, Jack Wienert.
lived in the athletic trainers basement when he was a
Missouri Tigers football player. He understood both the passion
and compassion of athletic trainers, she said.
the interview he explained that the X games required incredible
coordination and skill. The event was both vast and overwhelming
and whoever was to be in charge of athletic training needed
a plan of attack. Wienert asked her, How can you eat an
elephant? Her response, One bite at a time,
cinched the hire.
from Indiana, McGowen lettered in four sports in high school:
track, cross-country, volleyball and basketball. She earned
her bachelors of science and became a certified athletic
trainer. After discovering she enjoyed mentoring athletic training
students, she went to Syracuse and received a masters
in education. This past August, she earned a Ph.D. in sports
administration from UNM.
is still a mans world, she said, but added that
now 52 percent of the membership of the National Athletic Trainers
Association is female.
said there are still doors to break down and lines to cross.
teaching, I can pave the way for younger students. That drove
me into education, she said.