Back when La Trobe University opened in 1967, there was no physiotherapy course. It actually took another 20 years before the University made the course available, after merging with the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences in 1987.
Since then, La Trobe has developed a rich history in the field, producing world-leading physios across basketball, cricket, tennis and many more. Here, we introduce 10 of our best.
1) Paul Ness, Director of Medical Services, Senior Physiotherapist at ATP
Paul Ness is the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour Director of Medical Services, Senior Physiotherapist, working with players such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. Paul began with the ATP in 2003 and was appointed to his current role just one year after.
During this time, he's played a key role in introducing programs that have had significant impacts on decreasing injuries.
'The ATP World Tour Medical Services started a tennis-specific screening program over 10 years ago to test a range of important physical attributes and address deficiencies seen. I believe I have seen fewer significant injuries over the years partly because of this program,' Paul told Tennismash.
Prior to this, he was a physiotherapist at Soccer Victoria and Proactive Physiotherapy. When he is back home in Melbourne, he works at a private practice in Box Hill.
Paul graduated from La Trobe in 1991 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy.
2) Chelsea Lane, Executive Director of Athletic Performance and Sports Medicine at Atlanta Hawks
Chelsea Lane is the Executive Director of Athletic Performance and Sports Medicine at National Basketball Association (NBA) team the Atlanta Hawks.
Prior to moving to the Hawks in July 2018, Chelsea was the Director of Performance and Sports Medicine at Golden State Warriors in the team’s most successful period of their history. Throughout Chelsea’s three years at the Warriors, the team won three titles – 2015, 2017 and 2018.
She worked with some of the league’s greatest players, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durante and Klay Thompson. Previously, Chelsea was lead sports physiotherapist for Athletics New Zealand and travelled to the 2015 IAAF World Championships in China.
Chelsea completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Sports Physiotherapy from La Trobe in 2005.
3) Alex Kountouris,Sports Science & Sports Medicine Manager at Cricket Australia
For cricket fans, Dr Alex Kountouris is a renowned figure. He is Cricket Australia’s Sports Science & Sports Medicine Manager and has been working in cricket for over 20 years. Alex began with the Sri Lanka national cricket team in 1995, before switching over to the Australian team in 2003.
In his time with Sri Lanka, Alex oversaw a number of players who would eventually become some of the world’s best, such as Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Mahela Jayawardene. It was also one of the most successful periods in Sri Lankan cricket. Similarly, Alex has been on board for possibly Australia’s greatest period in cricket history.
Alex completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy in 1991 and a Graduate Diploma of Sports Physiotherapy in 1995. In his minimal time away from Cricket Australia, he also is a lecturer at La Trobe.
4) Dr Susan Mayes, Principal Physiotherapist at The Australian Ballet
Dr Susan (Sue) Mayes has been the Principal Physiotherapist of The Australian Ballet since 1997. In the role, she manages the medical department and treats the diverse injuries of the professional ballet dancer.
Sue is recognised as a leader in the field of physiotherapy – particularly in areas of rehabilitation, injury management and injury prevention – and is a world-renowned expert in dance health.
Outside her role at The Australian Ballet, Sue is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at La Trobe University’s School of Allied Health and an internationally respected physiotherapy teacher and mentor. She says her education at La Trobe was of the utmost class.
'I have benefited from the highest quality of health science education and have been educated and inspired by world-leading researchers,' Sue said.
'La Trobe has had the most incredible impact on my life. I’ve been challenged, but I’ve also had great success. My proudest moment for my career was walking up on stage to accept my PhD at La Trobe.'
Hear more of Sue's career story in our Distinguished Alumni video series.
Sue earned a PhD in Health Science, a Graduate Diploma in Sports Physiotherapy and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy from La Trobe.
5) Les Gelis, Director of Sports Medicine at Brooklyn Nets
Les Gelis is the Director of Sports Medicine for the Brooklyn Nets, who compete in the NBA. Les began in the position in June 2018, after completing his role as head of physiotherapy at the Football Federation Australia (FFA).
Les had been serving the FFA as a physiotherapist since 1997 and travelled to an astonishing four World Cups. In 2010, after 13 years at the FFA, he was appointed Head of Physiotherapy, where he oversaw the physiotherapy departments of the Socceroos, the Matildas and the national league.
Previously, Les served as Head of Physiotherapy for the Manly Sea Eagles and the South Melbourne Soccer Club. He worked two stints as an Olympic team physiotherapist for the Australian national football team, including at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Les earned a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy and a Master of Science in Sports Physiotherapy from La Trobe.
6) Charlotte Ganderton, Physiotherapist for Cirque du Soleil
Of all the names on this list, Charlotte Ganderton may have the most unique job title. She has been serving as a Physiotherapist for the Cirque du Soleil's Toruk Arena Tour since 2017.
After finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Health Science and Master of Physiotherapy Practice with Honours in 2013, Charlotte began as a lecturer and researcher at La Trobe, focusing on shoulder and hip injuries, as well as tendinopathy.
Charlotte has worked in clinical physiotherapy with LifeCare Australia prior to her role with Cirque du Soleil, as well as Mill Park Physiotherapy, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Eastern Health.
She has worked in the sporting space for the Western Bulldogs VFL team and the USA Liberty Women’s football side, including when they played in the AFL International Cup.
Charlotte completed a Bachelor of Health Science and Master of Physiotherapy Practice (Hons) in 2013 and a PhD in Physiotherapy in 2017.
7) Shane Hayes, Director of SH Sports Rehabilitation
Shane Hayes has developed quite the CV in his 10-year career in physiotherapy. Currently pioneering his own Beijing-based organisation, SH Sports Rehabilitation, he has previously worked with multiple elite sporting organisations across Asia.
Not one to be tied down to a single sport, Shane has worked in cricket, basketball and athletics. Having also worked with the Chinese Winter Olympics team in 2014, he’s almost checked off every type of sport possible.
During his time with Pakistan’s national cricket team, Shane helped the country reach the number one ranking in Test cricket for the first time in their history. Pakistan also won the 2017 Champions Trophy under Shane’s watch as physiotherapist.
Shane completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Sports Physiotherapy in 2013 at La Trobe.
8) Alicia Tang, Lead Women’s Physiotherapist at The Football Association
Alicia Tang’s career has taken her from clinics in Melbourne, to working in China, and now all the way to her current role in the UK as Head Physiotherapist for the English National Women’s Football team.
While still completing her first degree at La Trobe, Alicia began working at the St Kilda Football Club as a Sports Trainer and Physiotherapist. From there, she went on to work at the Melbourne Aces in the Australian Baseball League and at the Western Bulldogs simultaneously.
Alicia’s experience in baseball was furthered when she took a role with the Colorado Rockies as an International Physiotherapy Consultant. From there, Alicia headed to China to work as Head of Physiotherapy for the Chinese Olympic team.
Alicia graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and a Master of Sports Physiotherapy in 2011 from La Trobe.
9) Chris Bailey, Head Physiotherapist for Australian Men’s Rugby 7's
A specialist in rugby physiotherapy, Chris Bailey is currently the Head Physiotherapist for the Australian Men’s Rugby 7’s and Rehab Physiotherapist for Rugby Australia.
Chris has an extensive history in rugby, beginning back in 2009 when he was appointed Head Physiotherapist for the Warringah Rats. From there, he's worked with the Philippine national rugby team and in the NRL with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Chris is also Director of High Performance Rehab and Sports Physio in Sydney, Australia.
Chris completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Sport Physiotherapy in 2013 and Master’s Degree in Sports Physiotherapy in 2014 at La Trobe.
10) Kate Mahony, Sports Physiotherapist, Sports Science and Sports Medicine Lead at Cricket Australia
A leader in female athlete physiotherapy, Kate Mahony has applied her high-quality physiotherapy skills in just about every sport imaginable.
Currently, Kate is holding down two integral roles in Australian sport. She is a Physiotherapist and Sports Science and Sports Medicine Lead for Australia’s female cricket team, along with Head Physiotherapist at the Australian Open.
Before those roles, Kate worked for the Women’s Tennis Association as a Sports Physiotherapist and Primary Health Care Provider. She also worked as a physiotherapist for a number of elite British teams, including sailing, athletics and rowing.
Kate was a recipient of the Churchill Fellowship award in 2018, allowing her to travel worldwide to investigate the best practice sports science and sports medicine care of female athletes.
Kate graduated with a Master of Sports Physiotherapy from La Trobe in 2012.