Carolyn Donaldson

Holistic view helps trampolinist’s rehab

Becoming a “world class re-habber” and changing his focus with support from his HPSNZ Athlete Life Advisor Carolyn Donaldson has helped New Zealand trampolinist Dylan Schmidt overcome serious injury on the road to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Dylan, who finished seventh at the 2016 Rio Olympics, badly damaged multiple ligaments in his knee, two years later and underwent surgery followed by a12-month period of rehab.

He quickly adopted a mature approach to the challenge and reset his thought process to becoming a “world-class re-habber.”

Carolyn, who has worked with Dylan for six years, saw the injury as an opportunity to “reframe” this period to allow the athlete to develop outside of sport.

“My role was to offer him the perspective that he could maximise other opportunities and Dylan was very open-minded about this,” she explains.

“To suffer such a serious injury is devastating for an athlete but to have positive distractions is important because it allows an athlete to be less prone to dwelling on every aspect of the rehab. The planning of his future life around his rehab became the focus.”

Carolyn describes Dylan as “curious, mature and pragmatic” and the pair carried out a lot of work on career profiling focused on self-motivation to help him understand more about what he wanted to do post-degree (he graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in commercial law and info systems).

For Dylan, the work also entailed a greater understanding of himself, his value set and what make him tick and he grabbed the self-development opportunities which came his way.

He decided to upskill himself in public speaking – which he later implemented by carrying out talks at schools and gym clubs – and seized the chance to undergo various networking experiences.

“It helped develop a portfolio of different skills he would use in the future,” adds Carolyn. “It helped Dylan become a more rounded person.”

The global pandemic last year, which brought about the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games, caused another change of plan for Dylan – who left the family home, took on a new job and bought a dog all within a short period of time.

“He has a whole set of things he wanted to do and with the onset of COVID-19 and Tokyo not happening, it meant he brought some things forward,” adds Carolyn who meets up with Dylan at least once a month. “I just empower him and support him in decisions which are right for him.”

Dylan’s wellbeing is a big focus of their work together and Carolyn takes a holistic view focusing on the physical, mental, emotional and social with a strong sense of self-identity.

“To be well-rounded gives perspective and confidence in being able to perform,” adds Carolyn. “This has allowed Dylan to better understand who he is, which will hopefully help him deliver his best performance when it counts.”