By Tahlia Zaloumis

Sport trainers are a crucial part of keeping sport safe for everyone.

Medic and trainer, Ray Vingilis has been working in sport for more than 30 years. The experienced trainer has opened many opportunities for himself and has continued to aid athletes throughout his career.

Ray spends the majority of his time working for the NSW Cycling Federation, specialising in track cycling. Aside from this, he volunteers at different sporting events each year.

“I became a sports trainer because I like helping people and if there is an event that needs volunteers, I’ll be the first to put my hand up.”

Throughout his career as a sports trainer, Ray has volunteered at a range of events including the World Masters Games, Quidditch, Various UCI World Cups (Cycling) and all codes of football.

During these events and his continued work for the NSW Cycling Federation, Ray has mostly come across minor injuries such as injuries to the ankle, knee, asthma problems, muscle cramps or minor lacerations. Of the most major injuries he’s come across, these have been spinal injuries within cycling. These injuries have been largely caused by athletes falling from their bike by colliding with another rider at speed whist riding in a peleton.

“I’ve never panicked, I go through the steps of my training through my head and I stabilize the athlete until higher medics come to help.”

With all his training and knowledge, Ray feels comfortable in the work he puts in.

Recently, Ray stepped in to volunteer at the Australian Sikh Games. A national event held during Easter each year, with up to one thousand athletes participating over three days of competition, the Sikh Games incorporate the fundamentals of multiculturalism in Australia.

This national event is hosted in a different location each year, and when Ray heard it would be held in Sydney, he was the first to put his hand up to volunteer.

“I enjoy the big events and helping sports teams; they both have their differences and I enjoy working for both.”

At these Games however, Ray’s training, skills and confidence would become vital for a hockey player who suffered a serious medical emergency in day two of the competition.

Ray explained that fortunately he and the other trainers were not stationed at any single sport, instead they were all set to roam around and help as needed.

“It was lucky; I was only 50 metres away when someone came up to me and grabbed me, because a hockey player had gone down.”

Two other medics were already providing aid to the athlete after he went down, with Ray grabbing his equipment to join them and help stabilize the athlete as best as he could.

“I ran with my equipment and I grabbed the defibrillator; I just thought about my training and steps in my head. It’s automatic mode and you switch off— there’s no time to panic.”

The paramedics came quickly after he and the other trainers were able to successfully stabilize the athlete. Ray believes his experience and confidence in his training was key to delivering the life-saving assistance required in this emergency situation

“I have never doubted my skills—as a trainer you can’t. I knew what I had to do, and so did the others, and we go on like it was any normal job.”

From the bravery shown at this event, Ray Vingilis and the other trainers received a shield of appreciation from the Australian Sikh Games. To this day, Ray and the other trainers, remain in contact with the player they helped. Ray and the other trainers were also invited to a family event where the athlete showed his tremendous appreciation for their help on the day.

“I’m glad I was able to save someone, and I hope he has no further issues.”

After this event, Ray has taken on a different outlook in his career. Despite having more than 30 years’ experience and more than enough skill to help an athlete when needed, he firmly believes that sports trainers should always keep learning and upskilling.

Taking his own advice, Ray is planning on studying a diploma of paramedicine, for his own personal development.

“The more you know, the calmer you can be in a critical situation.”
Aside from this, Ray expresses that the training today, compared to 20 years ago, is vastly different. Any trainer/new trainer should get on board with learning and developing new skills as often as they can.

“For anyone wanting to come into this industry, there is never ‘too much training’ or ‘too much knowledge’. Everything always changes.”

Sports Medicine Australia provides a range of quality education courses for those working in sport. For more information on our courses, or to become a SMA Sports Trainer, click here for more details.