For 44 years, Janet Rogers devoted her life to fixing other people’s injuries — and, in particular, the sprains, pulls, and healing fractures of UPEI Panther athletes.
Janet first underwent physiotherapy treatment when she was a teenager. The experience must have left a strong impression, because she went on to study it McGill, receiving her diploma of physiotherapy in 1959 and her bachelor of physiotherapy in 1971.
She began her career working with young polio patients. She was staff physiotherapist at the Charlottetown Rehabilitation Centre from 1959 to1966 and director of physiotherapy services on PEI from 1966 to 1981. But a nephew, who played junior hockey with the Abbies, needed some help, and before she knew it she was in the dressing room fixing up his teammates, as well as the competition. Word quickly spread about a physiotherapist with a passion for sports and a commitment to helping athletes stay in the game.
For years she worked in the rehab clinic during the day and worked on athletes after hours. In 1986 she set up a private clinic in the Alumni gym, where avid amateurs, Olympians, and future professionals used her skills to teach them the exercises and routines that would allow them to restore mobility to a damaged joint or limb and stay in the sports they loved.
Says Vince Mulligan, former coach of the hockey Panthers, "The thing about her was that she was really good at what she did. She understood about the injuries, but she also understood the athletes. She knew about the nature of the sports and she knew about an athlete's desire to get back into the game.” He said she was someone who wouldn't encourage an injured player to drop a sport if there was a healthy way for them to stay in competition. “She helped a lot of kids stay in sports.”
Dave MacNeill, a former coach of the UPEI women's basketball team and the present head of Sport PEI, says Rogers’ skill in helping young athletes was matched by her commitment to them.
"I was at the university with Janet for years and she was really looked up to. She would be at all the games and would go on road trips. She was in that clinic lots of nights and weekends looking after people. She knew that there were some injuries that couldn't wait two days to be treated during Monday hours."
In April1990 Rogers moved into the new Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre. Rogers was the first Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) director on PEI and was the only Island member of the sports division of the CPA for 10 years. A former board member of Sport PEI, she was chief physiotherapist for the 1991 Canada Winter Games, held on PEI.
In 1998 she was honoured by the ADL/Sport PEI Recognition Program as one of the best friends of ailing Island athletes.
In 2003, Dr. Harry Callaghan, a Charlottetown practitioner devoted to working with high-level athletes, commented on Rogers’ input. “I was often the one making the diagnosis,” he said, “but she was the one who knew about the kinds of therapeutic exercises people could do and she knew about the body mechanics. She made a tremendous contribution to sports in this province and she did a lot to help keep players healthy.”
In 2004 Rogers traded her place near the Sport Centre’s main entrance to a seat in the bleachers, handing over the UPEI physiotherapy clinic to her long-time colleague and former patient Colin Moore. She says UPEI gave her a lifetime membership to Panther Sport so she wouldn’t get homesick.