Behind the scenes with Kate Wiens

Wiens behind the Stampeders bench during the 2019-20 MJHL season.

No matter where you go in the world of junior hockey, you’ll quickly learn just how passionate the people who work inside the game are.

One of the most thankless jobs in junior hockey is that of equipment and training staff who spend countless hours at the rink ensuring players are looked after, both on and off the ice. During this season, even more responsibility was put on the shoulders of training staff’s to ensure Covid-19 protocols were being followed.

But according to Swan Valley Stampeders, Athletic Therapist & Equipment Manager Kate Wiens, it was business as usual for the modest staff member who is now in her third season with the organization.

“Other than putting extra sanitation measures in place, my job duties didn’t change too much,” Wiens said of her role this season. “I’ve always been mindful about cleanliness and hygiene but this year, I’ve ensured all team spaces and high touch surfaces are disinfected regularly. Players are reminded of the symptoms of Covid-19 and to stay home if they feel sick. If they weren’t sure what do to or had questions, I made sure they were able to contact me about follow-up procedures or concerns about the new protocols required by the league.”

“This season, all team members had various roles and responsibilities to abide by. As an Athletic Therapist and Equipment Manager, a lot of the protocols I follow are related to cleaning, personal hygiene, and screening for the signs and symptoms of Covid-19. Laundering of team gear and disinfecting all locker room areas is required daily and I consulted with facility staff in regards to cleaning common areas around the arena. As usual, when treating players, I make sure my therapy table and all equipment is clean, as well as wash my hands between every treatment session.”

Any general manager you talk to will usually tell you people like Wiens are worth their weight in gold as they are truly valued members of each organization. While this season would be stressful for most, Wiens said she became busier but shared that it was all worth it in the end.

“Alongside the protocols implemented by the league, players are screened daily for signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and are required to undergo an internal body temperature check via an infrared thermometer, which is all recorded confidentially. On game days, I require visiting teams to provide a copy of their screening records in case of a positive test and for contact tracing.”

“It was really important to have protocols in place before the season started. We were fortunate enough to be the first Junior A league to start our season and it came with its challenges but having protocols in place for various circumstances that might be encountered was extremely helpful. I think the biggest takeaway was to be prepared for anything and I was lucky to have great support from both team and MJHL staff members,” Wiens concluded.

Kate Wiens has also worked numerous events for the MJHL including Prospect Development, the MJHL/SJHL Showcase and was named to the training staff of Team MJHL prior to the cancellation of the 2020 Junior World Cup in Sochi, Russia.