Care On and Off the Ice

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ice hockey injuries happen.

After all, it’s a contact sport played on a frozen surface.

“I was going into the corner and got buried from behind,” says Joseph Shavatt of Bowie, Maryland, who suffered a recent reminder.

Shavatt is a member of the Skipjacks Hockey Club’s elite Premier Juniors team, headquartered at the York Ice Arena. Shavatt is on a roster of 16- to 20-year-old college and professional prospects from around the country. Each has moved to York to play for the club.

Gathered at the York Ice Arena following a practice this season are, from left, Joseph Shavatt, Skipjacks Hockey Club player; Kevin Valvano, DO, WellSpan Orthopedics; Tyler Jensen, Skipjacks Hockey Club player; Giselle Aerni, MD, WellSpan Orthopedics and Thomas Hart Family Practice Center; Emily Young, athletic trainer, WellSpan Orthopedics; and Lennie Childs, Premier Juniors head coach and Marketing Director, Skipjacks Hockey Club.

A lot is on the line for players. As a result, shots are fast, dekes are impressive and checks are usually finished. Not to mention, they are living away from home and family — and their family physicians.

That is why WellSpan is proud and uniquely positioned to support the young athletes who are chasing their dreams. The health system has teamed up with the Skipjacks this season to make WellSpan Sports Medicine both the sports medicine and primary care provider for the team.

WellSpan’s Giselle Aerni, MD; Kevin Valvano, DO; and Emily Young, athletic trainer, make up the core of the WellSpan care team. Dr. Aerni and Dr. Valvano lend their unique expertise as specialists in both sports and family medicine to treat illness and injury.

And, in addition to her role as an athletic trainer, Young works to coordinate care with players and team leaders, helping injured or ill athletes away from home get better and get back on the ice.

“It speaks to WellSpan’s drive and initiative to be out in the community and be involved,” says Dr. Valvano, who played ice hockey himself growing up. His injuries actually sparked an interest to pursue a career in medicine.

The WellSpan Sports Medicine team also provides follow-up care and guidance to sick or injured players, and tools such as sport-specific rehabilitative workouts. The ongoing relationship allows WellSpan to, for example, closely follow players who may have sustained a head injury to ensure they stay on the road to recovery.

Lennie Childs, Skipjacks Premier Juniors head coach, calls the partnership a win.

“It has been phenomenal relationship,” Childs says.

It’s also a partnership that Dr. Aerni — whose impressive experience includes serving as the head team physician for the University of Connecticut Men’s Ice Hockey team for four years — hopes will turn into a power play of sorts next season with the implementation of a formal injury prevention program.

“I am thrilled how WellSpan is supporting this relationship. I hope it keeps moving forward and grows stronger,” Dr. Aerni says.

Shavatt’s injury happened during an away game in Boston. He ended up going into the boards shoulder-first. OK to make the trek back to York, Shavatt knew he would be in good hands.

“When I got home, I went to WellSpan and they checked it out for me,” he says.

His trip to WellSpan Urgent Orthopedics in York revealed a sprain.

“In a few days, it healed up nicely. And I feel nice and strong now,” Shavatt says. “It’s good to have the support there. It’s a nice support team.”

For more information about WellSpan Sports Medicine, visit or call the Sports Medicine Hotline at 877-482-5420.