A phenomenal feeling

Photo courtesy of Candice Ward

By Jennifer Parraga, BA'93

Before leaving for South Korea, Dr. Leanne Peters, BSc’02, MD’06, wondered if it would ever sink in that she was actually at the Olympics.

Turns out it did.

“It’s difficult to put the experience into words,” she said in a recent interview upon her return from PyeongChang. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and an incredible journey. Our team bonded so well, and just being a member of Team Canada at the Olympics was such a phenomenal feeling.”

Dr. Peters served as the team doctor for the Canadian Olympic Women’s Hockey Team, and was a member of Team Canada’s host staff.

A sports fan and athlete, Dr. Peters is a family physician, who specializes in sport medicine. She met Doug Stacey, a member of the physiotherapy team at Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic who is on the medical team of Hockey Canada, while doing a fellowship at Fowler Kennedy, and he offered her a position on the team. During the past 10 years, she has worked with the National Women’s hockey programs.

Dr. Peters’ journey with the 2018 team began many months before the Olympics. Two and half weeks before the games began, the whole team travelled to South Korea.

In preparation for the games, the team, coaching and medical staff lived outside of the Olympic Village. Their 12 to 15 hour days were jam packed with practise, training, and exhibition games against Korean men’s hockey teams. And when they weren’t on the rink or in the gym, they kept busy with team, staff and medical meetings, and strength and conditioning sessions.

Dr. Peters said that despite the busy schedule, they did manage to do some sightseeing and travelled to Seoul and Incheon, where they sampled traditional Korean barbeque.

Once the team moved into the Olympic Village, the reality of games began to sink for Dr. Peters.

She proudly recalls watching the opening ceremonies in Canada House, and singing the national anthem during the flag raising ceremony.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said.

The excitement grew for the team and Dr. Peters with each win. When they weren’t playing, Dr. Peters worked shifts at the medical clinic for all Team Canada athletes. and she had an opportunity to watch other events including the snowboard slalom.

With a goal to win gold, Dr. Peters says that the team was initially heartbroken with their second place result. In time, though, that changed as they reflected on the positive aspects of their incredible journey and they felt proud of what they had accomplished.

In the end, Dr. Peters is very thankful to have worked with the team.

“Canada is so well received, and I felt so much pride in wearing the maple leaf. My son and daughter were able to watch me walk in the closing ceremonies; it was phenomenal,” she said.

Dr. Peters will take a year off from the Olympic team as part of their normal process. She’ll return fulltime to her practice in Stratford and her role as an adjunct faculty member with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. It’s too soon to know how much she’ll be involved in the future, but she’s definitely open to reliving the dream again.