For the past four years Dr. Olivia Morris has been caring for Payson High School athletes treating just about every type of injury imaginable.
Her love of the job, expertise and desire to give back to her profession and community has prompted her to volunteer her time to take care of America’s Olympic athletes.
She’s doing so through the USA Olympic Volunteer Team Physicians program based at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Dr. Morris, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, recently spent two weeks at Colorado Springs where she served an “internship” providing health care services to the athletes.
Based on her performance there, which she believes was excellent, she is in line to complete the U.S. medical team at various competitions including the Olympic Games.
“There are several things that could happen, I could go to the Pan American Games, maybe to Vancouver (for the Winter Olympics) or maybe to the 2012 Olympics in London,” she said.
Morris suspects that her first medical assignment will be at the Pan American Games, which will be held Oct. 13 through Oct. 30, 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Eventually, she could find herself traveling around the world with the U.S. Olympic team, as some other carefully selected physicians now do.
Whatever happens, she calls her two weeks of service and training in the state-of-the-art sports medicine and sports science center in Colorado Springs the experience of a lifetime.
“It was such an honor and a privilege to be there and treat athletes at such a premier level,” she said. “I worked with so many fine people.”
At the center, Dr. Morris and other volunteer physicians were required to be jacks-of-all-trades treating a variety of ailments while sometimes providing psychological support and confidence.
Although Olympic protocol restricts Dr. Morris from talking about the athletes she treated at the training center, she reveals she did meet Olympic swimming hero Michael Phelps — an eight-time gold medal winner in 2008 at the Beijing Games.
She also treated a five-time Olympic weightlifter, several members of the USA women’s basketball team and qualifiers on the martial arts teams.
For Dr. Morris, the time at the training center was also a personal learning experience, mostly because she was required to take on tasks she wouldn’t normally face in her Payson practice.
“We learned about Med-Ex which is an evacuation exercise to get athletes out of places where they might be in danger,” she said. “Med-Ex was used at the last Olympics (Beijing) when the American was stabbed.”
She was referring to the fatal stabbing at Drum Tower of Todd Bachman, the father-in-law of the American men’s volleyball team coach.
Most importantly on Dr. Morris’ agenda at Colorado Springs were lessons in dealing with Olympic anti-doping and performance enhancing drug rules.
“We learned there are certain drugs that cannot be given to the athletes, they are very strict about that,” Morris said.
Because the volunteer doctors have such a close relationship with the athletes, they are on the front lines in the battle against doping.
Among their duties is to teach athletes which drugs are in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code and which ones can be legally used.
Morris points out that even if an athlete unintentionally consumes an illegal substance, it could result in a doping charge.
“That made our work very important,” tant,” she said.
Also during her stint at the training center, Morris treated and helped train several members of the Paralympic team.
“It was a super privilege to work them and I was humbled,” she said. “To see the heart they have is so inspirational, they are awesome athletes.”
At the Beijing Olympics, a record 148 countries sent Paralympic teams that competed in such sports as wheelchair basketball, cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, shooting and equestrian.
Now that Morris has returned to her medical practice in Payson, she’ll resume her work with the Payson High School athletes, which she also calls a privilege.
But, she’ll do so knowing that someday the phone might ring and she’ll be beckoned to join the Olympic medical staff. “I hope it’s just a matter of time, I’m excited about being a part of it.”