Bobbi Schram has cheered on clients in the National Hockey League and at Canadian and world championships.
Next month, the Brandon physiotherapist and strength and conditioning trainer will be glued to her television as athletes she works with will compete for the first time on sport’s biggest stage, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The founder of Outperforme Athletics, Schram trains Virden-based pairs skaters Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, who clinched their spot on Canada’s Olympic figure skating team on the weekend by finishing third at the national championships in Ottawa.
As with many of her athletes, Schram’s relationship with Lawrence and Swiegers doesn’t end the moment they walk to the door. In fact, Schram went to Ottawa to root for the pair in person as they made their bid for the Olympic team.
"Our whole family flew out just to be there for them, knowing that there was a third spot they were fighting for and it wasn’t a guarantee," Schram said. "It sounds ridiculous, but to a degree sometimes I think of these kids almost like my own kids. You’re just really (going through) the ups and the downs."
Schram’s clients include the likes of Brandon-born NHL players Ryan White of the Montreal Canadiens and Matt Calvert of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and she has worked with top-notch amateur competitors such as national rugby team member Amanda Thornborough.
In the past she’s also worked with former Brandon resident Jill Officer, who will represent Canada in curling in Sochi. Some of Schram’s clients aren’t athletes at all, but she said many of the principles are the same, including doing exercises using the same movements that are required by the activity a person is training for.
"Sometimes what we’re doing in the gym, (Swiegers will) be in the middle of Olympic lifting, and I’ll say ‘Now make it look good,’" she said. "So it’s not even just a matter of the lift with them. It’s the matter of making it look easy while they’re doing it, which is so different from a hockey player, where those guys, I don’t care if they’re grunting and groaning and pushing everything that they have."
Lawrence said Schram’s willingness to learn and adapt her programs has been one of the major benefits of training with her.
"Working with Bobbi has been a huge thing for Rudi and myself," Lawrence said.
"When we first started working with her several years ago, she really didn’t have much experience with figure skating, and what I really loved most about her was just her willingness to learn and try and accommodate us as best she could. She would come into the gym and be like, ‘Ok, I learned this and I think this would be really good for you.’"
Having battled through groin and hamstring issues this season, Lawrence also vouched for Schram’s contribution as a physiotherapist.
"I’m not just a client to her, I’m a person," Lawrence said. "And I know that this year, especially, I’ve grown really close with her because I’ve seen her so often, and I know that I wouldn’t have been able to get through this season without her."
It’s no surprise then that Schram said she sometimes loses sleep when her athletes are injured.
"I think it was obvious that Paige was taped," Schram said. "You could see the tape on her thigh, and it’s been in the media that she was competing with an injury, and for me that’s been a roller-coaster because you’re trying to design something that can work around it, but still might get her where she needs to go."
And while she won’t be able to cheer on Lawrence and Swiegers in person like she did at nationals, the skaters know they can count Schram among their many supporters who will follow them every step of the way from back home.
"We were actually just in Montreal (Tuesday) with Ryan White," Schram said. "He’s going to be home for the Olympic break and we were just saying, even if its three o’clock in the morning, we’re having an Outperforme Olympic party at our place. It doesn’t matter, because we’re watching it live, for sure."