Six years ago, during a game, Kristen Markoe was dodging a trap at half court when she heard a sharp pop and felt her knee give out. Her left ACL had torn. She was out for the season and would require reconstructive surgery. But her experience of being sidelined and undergoing extensive physical therapy would go on to inspire her to become a physical therapist and coach who is dedicated to helping other athletes not only recover physically and mentally, but also focus on injury prevention.
As part of the Hunter College Women’s Basketball team, Kristen was a star player and team captain who broke numerous records, becoming the first player at Hunter ever to record over 1,000 rebounds and earning the second all-time career points in women’s basketball. She was named CUNYAC Rookie of the Year and then Player of the Year three times. Now an Assistant Coach, Kristen remains heavily involved in developing the team’s conditioning program, emphasizing proper warm-up body mechanics and strength/agility/stamina workouts to improve performance. Have a seemingly inexplicable pain? Coach Kristen’s the first point of reference. Don’t have access to the department’s PT/conditioning staff during off-season? Coach Kristen’s door is always open.
This October, she hosted her third injury prevention screening for Hunter’s basketball teams, focusing on familiar foe and the number one culprit for sidelines: ACL injuries. Rallying over 15 SPEAR Therapist and Tech volunteers, Kristen designed eight stations for over 20 participating players to provide assessments that were unique both to each player and their athletic goals. Players were able to get direct feedback on their leg stability/ROM, landing control, push-off and landing, running/cutting mechanics, and more. Throughout the event Coach Kristen poked, prodded, demonstrated, and encouraged before sending each student home with an individualized exercise program to help them work on any weaknesses and avoid potential injuries.
Having organized the event a couple times now, Kristen says she’s gotten to learn and improve a lot. When first bringing up the idea to her SPEAR director, Joe Costello, last year, it was just an idea, something she’d tried as a PT student. But by the end of her meeting, “Joe was giving me deadlines to make things happen.” There were people to coordinate with, spaces to reserve, clinical exercises to design, materials to gather. Before she knew it, Kristen’s passion for bringing physical therapy to student athletes before they’re injured, and the experiences that allowed her to empathize with her team, turned her into a SPEAR leader.
In addition to providing SPEAR the opportunity to connect with more patient athletes, Kristen says these injury prevention screenings also “allow [therapists] to hone skills in movement assessment at high levels of athleticism.” Not only do these outreach efforts provide us with opportunities to connect with our communities, but they also help us develop as healthcare providers.
When asked about her next goals, Kristen says, “I am definitely looking to hold a screening for other teams at Hunter College—the women’s volleyball team, men and women’s fencing team, and men’s soccer team coaches have reached out with interest. Within SPEAR I am interested in becoming Assistant Clinical Director.” On November 6th, it was announced that Kristen Markoe would be promoted to Assistant Clinical Director of our W 57th clinic.
Thank you to all the Hunter College basketball students who joined us at Kristen’s ACL injury prevention screening–stay safe!