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Ready to rub the shoulders of golf greats at U.S. Open PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 19:10

Port massage therapist part of team that will tend to U.S. Open competitors

    Katherine “Kitchie” Allen is preparing to rub elbows with golfing royalty, such as Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson  and Wisconsin’s own Steve Stricker and their entourages.
    That’s because the Port Washington massage therapist has been selected to be part of the wellness team for the U.S. Open, which is being played at Erin Hills in Washington County through Sunday.
ALLEN, KATHERINE KITCHIE 4C    “I feel really honored to be part of this,” Allen said. “This is a really special thing. It’s exciting.”
    She blocked off this entire week in her schedule, but she said she hasn’t told too many people about her selection.
    “The people I have told are really excited for me,” Allen said.
    Allen said she’s been out to the course already to familiarize herself with the areas where she’ll be working and attended a training session for the 119-member wellness team in early May.
    That team includes 30 chiropractors, 10 physical therapists, 10 athletic trainers, five hyperbaric technicians, 40 massage therapists and a number of assistants and other volunteers, said Jeff Poplarski, chairman of the U.S. Open Golf Championship Wellness Team.
    “We’re going to see thousands of people during the tournament,” Poplarski said. “I told my team, ‘This is a Green Bay Packers game for seven-days straight.’”
    An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 people daily will visit the course, he said.
    Poplarski said he began recruiting for his wellness team last November and had the group picked by Jan. 1.
    He cold-called Allen after seeing her online resume, he said.    
    “Her resume is pretty impressive,” he said.
    Allen, who owns and operates Hands With a Healing Touch in downtown Port, said she was “dumbfounded” to get Poplarski’s call.
    After a phone interview and background check, she found out she was on the team.
    “I consider it a tremendous honor,” Allen said.
    This isn’t Allen’s first experience dealing with a sports team. She worked for several years with another professional sports team, although she wouldn’t say which one because she signed a nondisclosure agreement.
    “It was a blast,” she said of that experience. “It was another great opportunity.”
    That experience helped tip the scales in her favor when picking the wellness team, Poplarski said.
    “This is a very high-profile event, and I need to make sure I’m getting very qualified professionals on my team,” he said.
    Allen said she is looking forward to her time at Erin Hills. She’s a golfer who enjoys watching the big tournaments.
    “I’m always watching Augusta and the other big events,” she said.
    And as a member of the wellness team, she receives a pass to attend the Open every day of the tournament, not just the days she’s working.
    Allen will work two five-hour shifts — one in the volunteer tent on Thursday, June 15, where she will give chair massages to volunteers, and the other in the treatment trailer on Friday, June 16, where players, caddies and their support staff seek aid.
    Poplarski said 50 to 70 golfers and their staff go through the treatment trailer each day, spending about 90 minutes with the various professionals there.
    “These are the greatest players in the world,” he said. But their caddies are “some of our best clients,” Poplarski noted. “These caddies are walking at least five miles, if not more each day, carrying a 60-pound bag.”
    But it’s not the chance to work on the biggest names in golf that prompted her to say yes to this opportunity, Allen said. It’s the chance to network with others in her profession that attracted her.
    Allen has been a massage therapist since 2003, after taking classes at Blue Sky School of Professional Massage and Therapeutic Bodywork in Grafton.
    She began working from home, then later established her studio in downtown Port. She was also a teaching assistant at Blue Sky from 2012 through 2015, and often takes her table to places like the Harbor Campus senior living facility in Port.
    It’s a second career for Allen, who previously worked at Port Washington State Bank for 43 years, retiring in 2011.
    “I really love it,” she said. “It’s a wonderful, fulfilling profession to help someone in pain.”