Friday, September 13, 2013

Johnson first defense for U.S. Olympic team

Mentoring on and off the ice:
Buesser, left, with Johnson


Anne Holland “Holly” Johnson, MD, grew up loving ice hockey. As a high school hockey star and then as captain of the Harvard University Women’s Ice Hockey Team, she always dreamed of one day playing in the Olympics.

Seventeen years later, Johnson, interim director of the Foot and Ankle Service in the MGH Department of Orthopædic Surgery, will pursue her Olympic dream in a different way. While her playing days are behind her, Johnson is still linked to the game she loves – as the team doctor for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey team.“My path led me elsewhere personally, but professionally I am still connected to the sport, which has been a big part of my life,” says Johnson. 

Since Johnson’s appointment as team doctor in the spring, it has been a whirlwind of travel and preparation for the upcoming games in Sochi, Russia. In addition to her responsibilities at the MGH, Johnson attended the Olympic Trials in Lake Placid, N.Y. and will actively work with the team this month when they begin training at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford. “I’ll be traveling almost two weeks a month with the team from October through December,” says Johnson. “It’s a lot of general sports medicine, a lot of primary care work and of course being present at all of the games and away practices to treat any possible injuries or ailments. It’s a true privilege to be working with an amazing group of dedicated, extraordinary athletes and with a coach I admire.”

The team’s head coach, Katey Stone, is not only someone Johnson respects but also someone she knows well; Stone was Johnson’s hockey coach at Harvard. “We’ve maintained a close relationship throughout my career. I have consulted for Harvard athletics regarding foot and ankle issues and have been working with the national team for a while now,” says Johnson. “I think she ultimately recruited me because I have a unique sense of the game – a knowledge of injuries from a player’s standpoint and a medical standpoint as well.”

Harry Rubash, MD, chief of the MGH Department of Orthopædic Surgery, says, “Holly has done an amazing job of juggling her busy clinical practice, leading the Foot and Ankle Service, caring for her beautiful family, and now, working with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. She is a great role model for young women entering the medical profession. Holly has struck the right work/life balance and excels at both.”

Kate Buesser, a member of the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team and an aspiring physician, is thrilled to be working with Johnson both on and off the ice. In addition to her rigorous Olympic training schedule, Buesser is volunteering in Johnson’s office at the MGH.

“She has given me the amazing opportunity to be part of the MGH community,” says Buesser. “And our hockey team is ecstatic to have such an accomplished surgeon on staff. She has created an amazing web of medical support and understands what we are going through as players from her years wearing a Harvard hockey jersey. We feel confident she is doing everything in her power to keep us performing at a high level.”

In February, Johnson will board a plane for Sochi to help the 21 athletes vie for Olympic gold. “I’m going to savor every minute,” says Johnson. 


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