Alumna Helps USA Women’s Gymnastics Go for the Gold at Tokyo Olympics
This summer the world will turn its attention to watch the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. As qualifying athletes meet to compete on the international stage, Widener graduate Rachel Sine ’20 is her fulfilling her dream of working with the world’s top athletes in pursuit of this year’s Summer Games.
The physical therapy graduate is a medical team volunteer for the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team, which involved working one-on-one with the team and traveling with them to the Olympic Trials in St. Louis.
For the former elite gymnast, landing a role with Team USA offers a perfect blend of her passion for gymnastics and physical therapy.
“Gymnastics has always been a part of my life in a huge way,” Sine said. “I knew that I wanted to do something with gymnastics and physical therapy.”
Through her full-time job at Athletico Physical Therapy, Sine volunteers at a Chicago-based facility where she trains some of the country’s top gymnasts in rhythmic gymnastics events which include individual and group competitions with apparatuses including hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.
“I got to work with my girls who I had been working with all year and see them compete which I had never had chance to do before. It was a really proud moment,” said Sine, who helped train seven gymnasts who qualified in St. Louis.
Sine began competing at just six years old as an artistic gymnast, a category within the sport that includes the vault, bars, beam and floor performance. Her talent led her to the national competition circuit where she competed at the elite level on the Olympic path.
Like many high-intensity athletes, Sine suffered injuries during her career. Despite the setback and frustration, Sine’s rehabilitation process helped her realize that she wanted to combine her love and knowledge of the sport with a future in physical therapy.
“I knew as I was going through my rehabilitation that I could have received care more specific for me; more fun, more challenging, more gymnastics-centered. I wanted to figure out to how to best do that and that’s when I ended up going to school for physical therapy,” said Sine.
She followed her professional ambition to Widener’s nationally-recognized graduate physical therapy program where she learned from faculty members, such as Professor Dawn Gulick, who has an extensive history working with Olympic athletes.
“The professors, for me, were what brought me to Widener,” Sine explained.
Gulick has served as a medical provider for the USA National Team since 1993, which brought her to five Olympic Games training both Olympic and Paralympic athletes. She also was a member of the Olympic Sports Medicine Society and has provided medical coverage at a number of national and international events.
Learning from industry leaders like Gulick and others, including Mark Paterson, clinical assistant professor, was instrumental in Sine’s education and professional success.
“Dawn and Mark were what I really needed specifically to succeed in my niche of physical therapy,” Sine said.
With the Olympic Trials under her belt, Sine is joining the team at the pre-Olympic training facility to support Team USA in their quest for the gold and advance in the profession that she is so passionate about.
“I thought I knew everything about the gymnastics world but there are so many subsections that I didn’t know about really so I’m still learning about the sport that I’m so passionate about which is really fun for me,” Sine said.