How tuition scholarships are helping three US athletes pursue medical training that could give back to movement

Jordan Raney looks for a shot during the women’s water polo semi-final at the FINA World Championships Budapest 2022 on June 30, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.

Like Hurley, Raney, a two-time water polo world champion and Stanford University graduate, is a proponent of holistic medicine and is pursuing a certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In her grant application, she described the institute’s program as “a holistic approach to becoming a better coach, business leader, and health advocate for yourself and others.”

“It’s a weight on my shoulders to get a head start on my post-sport life and not feel anxious about the uncertainty of what’s to come,” she continued.

Raney, 26, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., said she’s had her share of “health issues” with the national team.

“I want to help other athletes facing similar or nuanced issues in these areas,” Raney said. “I also want to help athletes who are going through a transition period and how to move from intense professional sport to a balanced life with body, mind and soul. I also want to help ordinary people with these same problems.

Joanne Reid skis in the Women’s 4x6km Biathlon Relay during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 16, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.

Reid, a two-time Olympian in biathlon, holds a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is pursuing a Masters in Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling from Rocky Mountain Health Professions University.

“I come from a technical background in math and engineering, and I’m really excited to work in a field where I can directly give back and connect to people,” Reid wrote in her application.

“I would really like to use my personal experiences as an athlete and use this expertise and this diploma to help young people who have similar challenges. I think there is a major need for female mental health professionals to help girls in sport with body image, dysmorphia, diet and other related issues.

As the 30-year-old from Grand Junction, Colorado pointed out, she trained her whole life to become an elite athlete. At 14, she was training twice a day.

“I made two Olympic teams in the end, but the struggle and hardship cost way more than I ever imagined,” Reid said. “And if my teenage self knew that, I don’t know if I would have embarked on this journey.

“I would like to become a mental health counselor for all those girls who may look in the mirror and not like what they see because they were told not to, and teach them that they are strong , that they are beautiful and that they can be anything from rocket scientist to Olympian.

Reid said she hoped to become the voice she would like to have when she arrives.

“One who uplifts and supports girls and silences a narrative tells young female athletes they need to change themselves to fit an ideal,” Reid said. “I hope to leave the world, especially the sports world, better than I found it.”

Hurley said she was unsure if she would ever use her sword in a competitive setting again, saying she was “struggling with that decision right now.” Whether she competes again or not, Hurley said she would be open to working within the Olympic and Paralympic movements after graduation.

“I would love to be involved in something on that level,” she said. “It would be really cool, actually, to do something like that.”

Naomi C. Amerson