In the spring of 2004, I found out I was accepted to the Athens Health Services Sports Massage Team 2004. I was one of 100 volunteers from 12 countries chosen to go Athens, Greece, for the Summer Olympics to provide sports massage for the athletes. I was one of four sports massage therapists from Maine, and all were graduates from the Downeast School of Massage. Mary Alice Goering (’94) and Tammy Martin (’99) also were at the Olympics, and Jackie Flowers (’99) went to the Paralympics.
It was a dream come true. I had dreamed of going to work at the Olympics and not only was I going but I got to go to Greece, the homeland of the Olympics. As a 2nd generation Greek American and with many cousins in Greece, I was proud to be able to represent my culture and my profession by providing sports massage for these historic Olympics. Surprisingly, massage therapy is not commonplace in Greece. The organizers of our team had much educating to do on the administrative, political side of things. Fortunately for us, in the venues the athletes and coaches were able to see us, and if they were not already eager for massage, we would work on a few coaches and athletes who let others know we were there.
I was assigned to Dekalia, the athletes’ training village on the far side of the athlete’s village. I had the good fortune of being able to stay at my cousin’s house outside of Athens. Each day I would travel by foot, bus, metro, Olympic bus, and intervillage bus to work. It was long, hot (100’s), and very exciting. The transportation was full of sights to see, volunteers with interesting stories, and adventure. I worked 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM, mostly with boxing and tae kwan do, but got a little time with track and field and with wrestling. I was one of a team in each area to work on the athletes. We saw them before, during, and after their competitions. The athletes knew what they wanted from massage and would direct us accordingly. I got to massage members of the Greek national team for women’s wrestling and tae kwan do. They were very proud to represent Greece, and Greece was very proud of them. All the athletes had worked very hard to get there and showed amazing spirit, determination, and goodwill. It was enlightening to see so many showing the Olympic spirit—Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, China… The list goes on.
As the holidays approach, August and the heat of Greece seem so long ago. But as I get to share my pictures and stories, I stop and think, wow—I got to work at the Olympics.
Kate Anagnostis (’96) teaches Anatomy and team-teaches Event Sports Massage at DSM. She has a massage therapy practice in Brunswick and is the athletic trainer for Mt. Ararat High School. DSM is really proud of Kate and her fellow graduates and their contributions to this world event.