Recovering from a broken leg suffered in competition gives an athlete plenty of time to think about the future.
Take the case of Vernon’s Makena Kersey, 18, a member of the Okanagan Ski Club who was competing Feb. 1 at Kimberley Alpine Resort when her ski got stuck in a compression in the snow.
Kersey ended up in the protective V-netting with a broken left fibula and ripped up knee.
It was during six weeks on crutches, slowly rehabbing her leg and knee to the point of a build-up to walking that Kersey decided to call it a career after more than a decade on skis.
“I’m done racing,” said Kersey, a 2019 graduate of W.L. Seaton Secondary, now in Victoria attending classes at UVIC in first-year psychology.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries so I figured it was a good time to stop.”
While rehabbing under the watch of Dylan Wiebe, a registered massage therapist at Vernon’s Impact Sport and Health Clinic, Kersey’s story caught his attention.
Two years ago, Wiebe started the Okanagan Athlete Sponsorship Program, which allows local athletes to compete, train and receive therapy and support to excel in their sport.
Wiebe donated $1,000 to Kersey, which the now-former competitive ski racer will use to help pay back parents Sandy and Rob for travel expenses.
Besides competitions, Kersey travelled to New Zealand twice and Chile over the last three years for three-week ski racing camps in the summer.
“My program supports athletes in their development and part of that development is, sometimes, you reach the point where you have to call it a career,” said Wiebe.
“I supported whatever she wanted to do. In the spring, I asked her: ‘Did you want to continue with the program and keep racing?’
”She decided during rehab to call it a career.”
“I’m very thankful for the donation,” added Kersey.
Wiebe usually works with athletes to gear them toward World Cup or national events.
Last year’s recipient was Travis Towers, a member of the provincial trampoline team working his way toward a spot on the national team.
“The program is basically my passion for sport and to give the ability for them to excel in their sport,” said Wiebe in a 2018 interview with The Morning Star.
“I provide therapy, a little bit of strength and conditioning and, this year, some financial support so they can pursue their dreams.
”I was an athlete too (hockey, soccer) and never caught the opportunity to have that so I wanted to give back in that sense because I like to see the athletes do what they love.”
In order to qualify for the program, the athlete must compete at an elite level, whether competing provincially or nationally; have to practice multiple times per week, train multiple times per week and travel for extensive high-performance levels of competition.
“If I see an athlete potentially in the news I might reach out (to them),” said Wiebe.