LAURINBURG — St. Andrews athletic trainer Kaitlin Greigo recently spoke at the District 3 Mid-Athletic Association Athletic Training Association symposium about her experiences working with international student-athletes.
Greigo wrote a proposal to share what she’s learned over the last five years at the athletic training symposium which was held earlier this month in Ocean City, M.D. She was selected and gave an hour-long presentation that highlighted how to communicate and build effective relationships with international students.
In her presentation, Greigo talked specifically about her interactions with the St. Andrews men’s soccer team and the challenges she faced. Her discussed developing trust, overcoming language barriers and cultural differences.
“I had to learn so much more than I knew about patience, about describing body parts such as there are no words for toes in some Spanish speaking countries,” she said. “I hit a wall sometimes trying to figure out what was wrong or what they were trying to explain.”
For the 2017-18 season, the St. Andrews men’s soccer team consisted of 49 student-athletes, of those 38 were international with 16 coming from Spain, Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia.
All the athletes had a basic grasp of English, according to Greigo, but only a few were readily bilingual. The other obstacle — Greigo doesn’t speak any Spanish.
Even with the help of teammates who could translate, attempting to treat injuries was a daily challenge. For the most part, Greigo would point to different body parts and try to understand the players facial expressions.
Most of the athletes only played in clubs with minimal athletic trainer accessibility in their native countries. Greigo’s relationship with her student-athletes was dependent patience, empathy and most importantly “learning about their family and culture which they want to talk about.”
Greigo said interacting and treating international student-athletes isn’t something that was taught when she was in school at Hofstra University in Oklahoma for her bachelor’s degree.
“I think it’s something that needs to be discussed more,” she said. “We had international students at my college, but it was not a topic that was covered.”
Now five years into her tenure at St. Andrews, Greigo continues to work with the men’s soccer team and also provides care to the men’s volleyball team and softball team.
With some years of experience under her belt, Greigo is more confident in treating international student-athletes. She ensures her initial contact with them is welcoming and does her best to convey that she is there to help them with any injuries they sustain.
She said she still had to remain cognizant of not only the type of treatments she provides, but also visa and insurance issues and no parents on the sidelines to help their children when an injury happens.
Even a trip to the physician can be complicated, trying to interpret what is being said, how treatments are to be accomplished and how insurance works.
“I have become at times more of a care giver, but it’s made me a better athletic trainer,” she said.
Greigo hopes to share her experiences at the national level and plans to submit her presentation for consideration at the National Athletic Trainers Association Clinical Symposia & AT Expo next year. This year’s NATA convention will be held June 26-29 in New Orleans.
“I will be doing the same presentation, but will more than likely tailor it a little differently for the national symposium,” she said.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]