Story by Deepa Bharath, photo by
Kathy Flippin will go to Utah next month.
Not as an Olympian herself, but as someone offering a service to
thousands of athletes.
Flippin, a 32-year-old Newport Beach massage therapist, has
volunteered to be a member of the 2002 Winter Sports Massage Team. As
part of the distinguished crew, she will try to soothe, repair and
rejuvenate tired, injured or aching muscles at what will be the biggest
sporting event of the year.
"I am really excited to get this opportunity to work with the world's
best athletes," Flippin said. "It's thrilling for someone like me to work
with bodies at such a high level of fitness."
The massage team is part of the Utah chapter of the American Massage
Therapy Assn., which has been contracted by the Olympic Committee to
provide massage services at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Flippin, however, will not be paid for the massages she will give
athletes over eight days. She will be responsible for all expenses --
including uniforms, travel and meals.
What makes it all worthwhile?
"It's the experience," Flippin said. "It's simply amazing."
She is not alien to the feeling. Flippin was invited as a guest of the
Filipino Olympic team during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. She had
some memorable experiences at the Olympic village and during the
"The athletes are your clients," she said. "But they become friends
just because of the nature of the job."
Flippin will leave for Utah on Feb. 15. On her way back, she will stop
in Las Vegas to work with the Mission Viejo Madadors, a local swim team
she volunteers with.
To qualify for the job at the Olympics, a massage therapist must have
500 hours of education, insurance coverage for personal liability and a
license to operate in his or her geographic area.
Flippin applied for a place on the team in November and was informed
of her selection as early as December. All she had to do was send her
resume with a letter stating why she wanted to be a volunteer.
During her time in Utah, she and other therapists will work out of a
large trailer with 10 massage tables, where athletes can walk in and get
massages during regular working hours.
"It's a great arrangement because there are several small countries
that participate that do not have resources like the United States team
has," she said.
Flippin said she also enjoys the "intercultural exchange" that is part
of these world events.
"You enjoy other cultures and perspectives," she said. "The village in
itself is a thrilling experience."