International Finals Youth Rodeo sees first sports medicine team at 2021 rodeo

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star

The International Finals Youth Rodeo is seeing a first at this year's event. The IFYR has partnered with SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Shawnee to bring a sports medicine team to the event.

Cody Legg, manager of the sports medicine program, said there are between four and five athletic trainers on site for each performance, covering all three arenas.

Part of what the team does is help try to prevent injuries before they happen with pre-event care such as ankle taping, bracing, and stretching.

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“We do some stretching, making sure they feel good to compete,” he said. “If something happens while we're out there, we'll triage it, see what's going on with them, do an evaluation and see if we can keep them competing healthy or if we need to send them on.”

Cody Legg, manager of SSM Health’s sports medicine program, and Kim White, with SSM Health business development, stand in front of the mobile sports medicine trailer at the IFYR.

Carla Tollett, communications and marketing with SSM Health, said there are also physicians on site at every performance. Though there have always been ambulances standing by if needed, this is the first time in IFYR history the event has had orthopedic doctors available on site in case of an injury.

The team also has a mobile sports medicine trailer, which is also used at events such as OKC Energy games. If the team needs more privacy or supplies, they can treat contestants in the sports medicine trailer, where they can tackle injuries that don't require a trip to the emergency room. As an example, stitches can be done in the trailer. Anything involving machinery such as x-rays, however, Legg said would need to be done at the hospital.

Area residents Randy and Suzanne Gilbert, both longtime volunteers with the IFYR, spoke highly of the partnership between the IFYR and SSM Health.

“They have brought a phenomenal team in to work at the performances,” Randy said. “We have 11 performances, one on Sunday night and two a day on Monday through Friday. Their team comes in an hour before the performance and stays an hour after to watch our contestants.”

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The sports medicine team helps IFYR contestants stretch and get ready in this space at the expo center.

Monday morning, he added, one contestant was injured in the steer wrestling competition.

“Their team was johnny on the spot. They got right to him, went through the triage process, took him to the emergency room,” Randy said. “He was real cared for, and will be back again for round number two. They were very good and very responsive and very professional.”

Monday afternoon, Legg said things had gone well so far, with only two times they had needed to help at that point.

“The way we see it, if we're sitting around and just watching, that means everybody is safe and healthy and nobody's getting hurt,” he said. “It's better to be here and not be needed than to not be here and be needed.”

Pictured from left are IFYR volunteers Randy and Suzanne Gilbert, Kim White with SSM Health’s business development, Carla Tollett with SSM Health communications and marketing, and Cody Legg, manager of SSM Health’s sports medicine program.

Suzanne added that not only is Legg overseeing the sports medicine team, but he also has another connection to the rodeo.

“He actually rodeoed here in calf roping at one of the first IFYRs,” she said. “He's very familiar with this rodeo, so he brings another level to knowing exactly what we need as a professional at this rodeo. We're blessed to have him here and to help with our cowboys and cowgirls at the IFYR.”

Though the Gilberts said the IFYR has had someone on site to help with physical therapy and a chiropractor that came in, this is the first year to have a full sports medicine team at the rodeo, and they hope it continues.

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“We hope it's a longterm partnership, because they've just been awesome to work with,” Suzanne said.

“Our big focus is making sure we can help the communities we're involved in, and really help the students and student athletes in those communities,” Legg said. “The opportunity to do this, it just went hand in hand with everything we've been trying to do from a program standpoint.”

The mobile sports medicine trailer has extra supplies and gives the team a place to work with more privacy, if needed.

Tina Bridenstine is a reporter for The Shawnee News-Star. She can be reached at tina.bridenstine@news-star.com or 405-214-3934. Follow her on Twitter @tbridenstine1