Brett Allen, a Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) Master of Science in Health Science student in the Rehabilitative Science track, recently accepted a seasonal position to travel with the USA Luge Junior National Team to Germany for the winter season as the Head Athletic Trainer. Allen has had the luxury of fulfilling his dream of working with professional athletes since 2004, and has vast experience in professional baseball, arena football, and professional hockey. Although this experience has been a dream come true, Allen has wanted to work with an Olympic team since the very beginning of his career. When he learned about the temporary position with the Junior Luge team, he decided the opportunity was too good to pass up. Although his job is done now, he hopes to be able to work with the team again in the near future.

The athletes on the Junior National team range between the ages of 15-20, and although Allen has worked with professional athletes for many years, he said that working with these young athletes was like nothing he had ever experienced before. “Getting the chance to meet international athletes all competing for one goal- to win gold- was something else.” Allen said, “The work ethic and determination of these “kids” was unbelievable. It’s funny, when you compare them to the average high school athlete, these future Olympians stand out like a sore thumb. They push themselves to the edge every day. It truly is remarkable.”

Not only did Allen learn a lot about working with young athletes, he developed a deeper respect for the technical skill and talent it takes to be successful at Luge. “You’re using your handles and couffins (sled runners) to lift the steel off the ice to create a different friction and angle which allows you to speed up, slow down, or make a drive into a turn,” Allen said, “You’re basically trying to control an out-of-control sled with your body weight at speeds of 75-90 miles per hour.” He enjoyed watching them so much, he even felt a little jealous watching their runs! “I’m a bit of a daredevil myself,” Allen said, “and I’ve always watched the Luge during the winter Olympics, and I’ve always wanted to try it. Even today at 38 years old, I still want to try it.”

During his travels through Altenberg, Oberhof and Winterberg Germany, Allen’s Preventive Measures class was discussing concussions. With the high speeds, young Luge athletes tend to be prone to those types of injuries, so Allen was able to apply what he was learning about to his athletes on the team. “I mean think about it, 80 mph on a 50 lb sled making left and right turns while on ice, every run you’re not sure what is going to happen.” Allen said, “The USA Junior National Luge team that I was covering are athletes that are still ‘learning’ and training to try to become the best in the world. So they make a lot of mistakes.”

Right now, Allen is working for a local high school after battling an illness that put him on the sidelines, but getting involved with the Luge team was an experience he will never forget, that helped him get back into the swing of things. “I hope to be back with them next season.” Allen said, “They are a bunch of great athletes and fun to work with. I enjoyed every minute and welcome the opportunity to do it again.”