There’s no incentive like personal experience, as Liberty Bell senior Wyatt Belcher well knows. Wyatt — who you’ve seen on the basketball court, alpine ski slopes and soccer field, as well as in the Nordic tracks — realized a while ago that pushing your body hard often leads to injuries, which often leads to physical therapy.
But it was an anatomy class taught by Liberty Bell teacher Genny Rice, with guest teacher Jenna Kokes (longtime valley local, physical therapist, and Winthrop Physical Therapy & Fitness owner) that inspired Wyatt to pursue an internship in physical therapy, in which he is currently engaged under the mentorship of Tedra Acheson at Winthrop Physical Therapy.
“Over the course of my life,” says Wyatt, who just turned 18 last week, “I have had multiple injuries.” But “I became interested in physical therapy through an anatomy class,” he says. “It was interesting to learn about the human body and how to take care of it. As an athlete, I found it especially interesting to learn about how to prevent injuries from happening and to treat them.”
Although he plays several sports, Wyatt’s passion is soccer, and he hopes to continue playing at Gonzaga University, where he’ll matriculate in the fall. “I always dreamed of being a professional soccer player,” Wyatt says, “and as I’ve gotten older I realize that isn’t likely to happen.”
But staying close to sports and pursuing his academic interest in science is important to him, so a physical therapy internship was “the perfect fit” for him. “I’d like to give a big thank you to Ms. Rice for inspiring me and encouraging me to explore practical applications of science,” he says.
Due to patient confidentiality, Wyatt can’t comment on the exact procedures he’s witnessing or assisting with, but basically he is “job shadowing Tedra, [observing] different muscles that are being used during stretches and exercises as she works with a patient.”
Wyatt says he is learning “that there is a lot more to the human body than just your ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ that you sing about as a preschooler. The origin, insertion and action of muscles has to do with how the body functions or malfunctions.” His internship experience has included both physical learnings (how the body works or heals) and people skills learnings (how to interact with patients).
Like most 18-year-olds, Wyatt says he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. But, he says, “I’m still interested in exploring more sports medicine-related careers,” and “would like to stay as close to sports as I can and major in something science-related.”
Between now and when Wyatt leaves for Gonzaga, if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer an injury, you might just get lucky enough to have Liberty Bell High School’s ASB president as part of your treatment team. Gotta look on the bright side, right?