It isn´t common to see women playing any kind of noteworthy role in the Beko BBL, but in the past, there were two women who played a major part for their respective teams Fraport Skyliners and EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Daphne Bouzikou was the first female assistant coach in the Beko BBL and worked for the Frankfurt Skyliners from 1999-2008 while Wiebke Redlin was the athletic trainer for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg from 2000-2010 and then had a short stint with the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. Redlin then decided to move to the United States and focus helping basketball players with sports performance and rehabilitation. In only a short time, she has made a name for herself having worked with high class players that play in the NBA like like Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, CJ Watson, Rudy Gay, Jason Terry, Al Harrington, Derek Fisher, Ryan Hollins,PJ Tucker, or Omri Casspi. Then last summer, came an event that would forever change her life as she was involved in an accident. German Hoops spoke to the German about the past 6 months and how her road to recovery is coming along.
Wiebke thanks for talking to German Hoops. The last six months has been a very very difficult time for you as you suffered a severe car accident and suffered major lumbar spine trauma. You have been unable to work since September 2015 and been unable to walk, bathe, and care for yourself without extreme pain and the use of a walker. What has been your biggest motivation in the last months to keep pushing each day despite all the pain that you have suffered?
Hi Miles, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and talking about my actual situation .Yes indeed it has been a rough last month´s actually I have to say it’s the hardest battle I faced so far in my life and many times I just struggled to get it done and going through it even if everybody who knows me , knows I am always tough and don’t hesitate to work a lot and through things but those challenges and not being able to handle daily things because of this crucial pain led me just to one conclusion, I have to make it and can´t give up because I want to be back to what I love to do and where my passion is to work with players and helping them to get better, to educate them, helping them through injuries and bringing them back and work with them through tough times. I am telling myself I can do it as well but also I realized I have to ask for help and its okay because even if I know what to do, the pain and the injury and still will for a while help from a good circle of people who support me on this road to recovery and going with me the way of my hardest battle together as my supporters in multiple ways is very important to me.
Did the fact that you have worked over 15 years with professional athletes help get fit as well as get through tough injuries help with understanding your situation a bit and knowing that you helped so many players get to a top physical shape and get healthy again that you can also?
Of course my experience and seeing players coming back helped but still there are moments all this is or was more before the surgery irrelevant because of the pain and the fears I had and still have that I won´t make it back or that I won´t be able to do the things I have done before that I will be restricted, not as strong as I was before or that the pain is coming back. But those thoughts are normal and anybody regardless of an athlete or non-athlete who suffered a major injury knows you have those thoughts and they are normal but with the right mindset and support you can control those thoughts and turn them around into something positive so each step forward even if it’s a baby step like for me right now walking a little further or feeling my legs getting a little stronger is something positive and a step forward on the road to recovery. I think for somebody active and that works with their bodies all these thoughts and emotions are way more intense because you know you do need your body healthy to do what you do.
Let us go back to September 2015 in Las Vegas. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time when you were hit by a car. On top of the severe injury, you had more misfortune in that the person at fault had little insurance. Many professional players are very religious and you probably have heard the famous line “everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for you”. What were your thoughts the days after the horrible accident. Were you feeling why me, or were you like a player so often is saying “everything happens for a reason”?
Of course I felt bad why me and why now??? I had previous back problems but had them with good exercises and got it under control and I had no problems and could manage my job as active as possible and the way I liked to, but then from one second to the next everything changed. I immediately felt something is really wrong now but the quote everything happens for reason didn’t cross my mind in that second it came later and especially after the surgery when I felt that crucial leg pain was gone and all the experiences which came with the accident and came into reflection made me more and more knowing that really everything happens for a reason. I don’t know exactly what it will be at this point but I know for sure it happened for the better because I will get out of this stronger, with an even better understanding because I know now really both sides and I think that my future work just can benefit from this experience no matter how painful and frustrating it was and it still is even making me sad sometimes in the long run something good will happen out of the worst. A month ago, I talked to a couple who told me you got to see life as two big mountains and you have to be at the lowest point between them before you get on the way up to the next peak of the second mountain to reach the highest point and seeing all the beauty of life very clear. So right now I am still really in the bottom of my hike up and there will be rocks on the way but I will or want to reach the highest point to see the beauty of all. So I am on my way and ready for all obstacles on the way because I am curious how the better will look like.
You have been living in the United States in Las Vegas for some years now, but you are from Germany where your family lives. How difficult has it been not having them by your side?
That was and still is something what is quite hard for me and as life plays with never just one thing happens. I have a pretty big family with my mom and dad and three brothers and two sisters, but starting with my mom and dad. In December we were literally just about to set up when they will come over to stay with me and going through this when my dad got his lab results back and docs recommended immediate surgery because he got diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to undergo radiation after as well as recover so they couldn’t come and I thought what else is, whoever is above us putting this on me. Isn´t my situation enough, but my dad made the surgery very well and he is recovering very well but obviously not able to make a trip to the States. One brother will be first time dad soon with his girlfriend being pregnant so they can´t come. The second is in Singapore, the third one on a mission from the German military in Dschibuti and my sister just got into a higher position in her job and the youngest is about to finish her education and she just can´t take off so it was hard because having family around is always the best no matter what good and great people you have around you. We are talking on the phone and staying in contact so they´re supporting me in a different communication and I know even when they are 1000 miles away in our souls they are with me every second .
What person or persons in the United States have helped you the most mentally get through this horrible experience?
I have to say there are different people for different topics but a huge help was and is actually coming from one of my former players Doron Perkins who played in Oldenburg and still currently in Turkey. When he played for Maccabi Tel Aviv he injured his knee badly and nobody really saw him back playing and that was in 2011 and at that time he called me and asked me if I would do his rehab and at that time coach David Blatt was the head coach of Maccabi and he and Doron´s agent hired me exclusively as his rehab expert and I did his entire 9 months of rehab where we worked 5-6 hours a day. Sometimes even more on his comeback so we became friends and were still working together all the time so talking to Doron helped a lot. Just asking him what I told him on bad days and what it was it kept him going day by day again and again even I know but I need to hear it and I know 100% he understands all the up and downs but also my friends coach Don Beck, Tyron Mccoy, my surgeon and two friends I have here helping me with their supportive words and just sometimes being there for a coffee.
You had the neuro-spine surgery recently. How scary was this and all things leading up to the operation. As a person that deals with professional athletes and needs her own body for work, how difficult has it been blocking out the possibility of having to live the rest of your life in a wheel chair?
That was big and when my legs gave up totally on December the 23 and I was laying in the emergency room I just freaked out and doctors barely could keep me calm because first of all I was in the most pain ever and all thoughts went through my mind that this is it and all I love so much to do will be over and I have no idea what to do. It was one of those moments when I just wanted to give up but I call my doctor neuro spine surgeon Dr. Michael Seiff my Christmas miracle because he and his team put me back together and ever since then he and his assistant are always there and we are talking and monitoring my worries and how to manage them because they understand the mindset of an active person like me and that I don’t want go back just to daily life or a job behind a desk. No I want to be active and be strong enough to continue doing what I did with a couple of adjustments but he said he knows I let my athletes run or slide up the hills at the UNLV track in the summertime and he said he will come and watch how I run up and down with them. We recently re-evaluted that scenario and it might not happen early summer but eventually it will and he will be there.
Give us a little update how you are doing physically. It is April 2016. The doctors have stated that they see you being able to work again in June/July 2016?
As I said in the last answer , we re-evalute my situation every two weeks and going from there and since there was so much damage we don’t want to give a guarantee, It will be June or July. Its more so see in the next two months to see how the fusion and everything settles in and how the nerves are getting back to full function and muscle nerve activation and going from there. Right now I still have no clearance to do pool work which I am looking forward so much but hope that soon I will get the ok for it and I can increase my walking distance with my walker plus doing physical therapy with activation exercises, stretches, manual work, scar tissue work, tens, cryochamber, infrared wraps and laser plus almost the most important things which is resting. Actually this is one of the hardest parts for me because it´s not hard for me to motivate to workout, because I love being active, but at the current state I feel so tired and exhausted after one thing that I do need a lot of rest and that means laying down and then going from there if I can do more or if that’s it. My back and all structures are still in full healing mode
What has been the most difficult thing that you have had to refrain from doing physically since the accident and are most craving to doing again?
My yoga classes and stretches and moving freely because right now I just feel stiff and weak and would like to stretch and bend my body for a couple of hours
You are currently doing rehabilitation in Las Vegas. One of your favorite exercises is the Ice Chamber. You have to be in it two times for three minutes. How soothing is this for your body?
The cryo-chamber is my favorite and I wished I could do it three times a day because I literally can feel how it works against the inflammation and swelling plus its super convenient because you go in there two times for three minutes you don’t get wet and you don’t have to set up an ice bath which would be impossible for me right now, but if teams in the future consider to add cold tubs to their program they should consider a cryo-chamber because its time effective and quick and since we all know how important the time factor is for players if we talking about regen methods it is a great piece of equipment. I love it and can´t wait to go tomorrow again.
The medical costs have been unbearable estimated at $510,000. You had no insurance in the United States. Please explain how you didn´t have this? Even as a self-employed person there are packages that a person can have. What lessons have you learned from this experience?
You got me with that one and I have to be honest, the health system in the US is really horrible and in the beginning I still had health insurance from Germany and then over the time I looked into private options but because of previous health issues those packages were crazy expensive and then last year we started to look into government packages but at the time the accident happened I was still in application process so it wasn’t grapping at the time of the accident. What I learned about it, was that I needed to handle things earlier and not just in the last second as I plan programs sometimes for clients for a year with their peak performance dates. I have do better for myself in that area for the future.
I am a bit surprised how quiet the media awareness has been for you in Germany. Concerning your injury, you worked 10 years for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and briefly with the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. Has this surprised you or is it just a common occurrence that you aren´t a big name sports figure?
I would say no because everybody who knows me and know how I work knows I give 150 % all the time and I put my ego totally to the side in interest of the athlete and the interest who I work for so I never made anything special out of my work or what I do now because it´s not important for me if I work with a high school kid or an NBA MVP. Of course I appreciate it, but I am just not the person who is going out and telling everybody oh I worked with who and who and so and so. But I have to be honest here as well especially in the last years seeing how people get successful and getting almost icon status and what there really doing, I should have started years ago to let people know what I am doing and bringing it more into the public eye because when I started full time with the Ewe Baskets almost 15 years ago it wasn’t normal that teams had an athletic trainer and then it was also something special since at that time there were just 2 women working in the BBL as fulltime coaches Daphne Bouzikou and me and personally I thank coach Beck and the Ewe Baskets for the opportunity to do that in that form. I did it and I continued it under coach Krunic as well. Both coaches gave me 100% trust and freedom in my field and a lot of responsibility. So if I look back I definitely would do certain things different and made people more alert about my work because it´s an important part of the entire puzzle and not many can say they´re staying in this for so long than I did and I´ll add many more years to it.
You have worked with past and present NBA players like Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, CJ Watson, Rudy Gay, Jason Terry, Al Harrington, Derek Fisher, Ryan Hollins,PJ Tucker, or Omri Casspi. Some of these guys make 13,000,000 million dollars a year. You have worked with many on and off and would come to their aid at mid night if they were sore, but when you are in need, they have not felt the need to give a 1$, but instead might spend $30,000 a night in the casino in Las Vegas. Does this make you sad, mad or more contemplative about how you might go about doing business with them in the future?
Yeah there were times I was just wondering but I´m not mad because nobody is responsible for me or has any obligations towards me because were working in a business. But what made me sad is to see that players I worked with really long and intense with and went through tough times where they battled with their careers and with dedication and persistence and not giving up on them from my side and being on them to continue. I´m wondering that from some nothing came as support or help even when they knew that they went through major stuff as well, but not everybody is the same and they might have their reasons for it. It could be that especially the NBA guys getting probably asked everyday by so many people to help them that they just shut down in general so I don’t take it personal but it still makes me wonder because I don’t ask for help to get a new louis v bag, but I asked for help in a situation where I almost ended up in a wheelchair. I would have given back double that’s just me but as you said, they might prefer 30k on a table in one night instead of helping somebody who takes care of them when they need me and let´s keep it that way for the future. I know who is my corner and who is not and who I can count on and for certain work decisions I will definitely make different decisions because as I said I don’t need an NBA player for my ego, but I would rather work with a high school kid or an athlete who respects and appreciates the work I put in.
German national player Heiko Schaffartzik gave a very nice amount moments after he had heard about the donation possibility. As soon as there is more awareness in the German basketball world, do you see more respectable role models like Heiko Schaffartzik showing support?
Actually I hope so and I appreciate Heiko´s action so much and I wished that players I worked with seeing that and taking it maybe as an opportunity to give back. There are players I worked with who also immediately reacted and supported me like Jason Boone, Malcolm Boone, Tremmell Darden, Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Josh Carter, Acha Njei, Tyron Mc coy, Coach Beck, or Andre Mangold, but if you count the number of players I worked with over my 10 years in Germany , I agree there is a huge number of players who could use my situation as opportunity to give back in form of a donation. It´s not about how much it is for me to see hey, they care but as you said I think my situation needs still more attention to get heard because as we all know the season and the daily practice schedule keeps everybody busy so certain things need to be put out differently and maybe multiple times to get the awareness to get something done. We are all working in the same little circle of the small basketball world. I hope also with our interview that we can increase the awareness for my situation and that there will be many more who follow role models like Heiko or others
You have gotten 44 donations over https://www.gofundme.com/rehabtherehablady and from Beko BBL players like Jason Boone, Acha Njei or past player Josh Carter. What other ways do you see making awareness in the German basketball world besides via the media?
I think the media platform is a great opportunity, our interview or the posting from teams on their websites with a little background info about me or some voices from former players and the info about my link https://www.gofundme.com/rehabtherehablady with the opportunity to donate like the Ewe baskets did on their Facebook site or the Telekom Baskets Bonn directly on their website with immediate positive feedback. I am working on similar projects with other teams as well and I have to say a big thank you to the fan club from the Ewe Baskets Oldenburg because they made flyers in the arena and have a donation box and posting about my situation on their website.
Having a benefit basketball game for you would be a fantastic way to help your cause. Would it not only be normal procedure if a club like the EWE Baskets Oldenburg would stand behind you and get something like this to happen?
I don’t know if it would be normal or if anybody can expect that, but it´s the same with donators or who you think should or would donate and help without even thinking a second about it. It would be fantastic if the Ewe baskets as my team for so many years would go for a bigger action and it could underline the great program they have in Oldenburg and that not everything is about business and that humanity is still something in this craziness what counts when it comes down to it. I have to give the Ewe Baskets Oldenburg program a lot of credit because what I have seen in the past years or what I see even in many NBA teams or highly reputed European clubs in terms of their organization and how they take care about players, Oldenburg did years ago already more than most teams are doing these days and it’s a shame because teams investing into players but they don’t want to invest in the necessary professional environment. Oldenburg did in all my years there a fantastic job and was ahead of many things. So maybe if my situation gets more publicity in the German basketball world something bigger is possible to make something happen if that’s the Ewe Baskets or the BBL community together I don’t know but I won´t give up the hope that something good will happen .
After your road to recovery, you would like to show how much you understand and just how thankful you are that you will be donating your rehabilitation and strengthening programs completely free of charge to victims confronted with similar misfortunate situations. Despite all the stress you have suffered in the last 5-6 months is being able to give back to persons in a similar situation like you something that will keep your mind at piece as life gets back to normal?
Yes that is definitely something what is important for me after I recover from this horrible experience with all what came and still will come with it to give back my knowledge and my experiences for somebody in the same situation and letting them know that they´re not alone. I just can make it through this with the support from all my supporters and friends without them it would be impossible so I want to show my appreciation in that kind of setting giving back and also raising the awareness that literally one second in your life can change everything and you might lose everything as I did, but there is always somebody who shows up when you think your alone, your not. Somebody will be there to help and to help somebody in a similar situation would just be the minimum I can do as a thank you for all the support and hopefully even more so I could make it through this situation.
I can imagine that you are very very thankful that you are alive. It will be a long road to recovery, but you are alive. What have you learned about yourself as a person in this tough situation?
To take everything a little slower and appreciating the little things in life more because we take them to often for granted because we are rushing so fast through this world no matter if it’s the drive through for everything or the social media who can create an icon in a day or destroy somebody in a minute. Life is way more than that and sitting down and reflecting, listening and just taking an extra minute even a protocol says time is over, but I think I did already pretty good with that before but also we all can do better and as I said for me it is , slowing down and enjoying back the wonderful things life gives us and that is for me for example spending time at the ocean and just being surrounded with the sound of the incoming and outgoing waves or flowers or a good coffee talk with one of my friends. Work is important and I will love my work not less or putting less into it but I want to balance it out better what actually would result in an even better more authentic work and therefore a benefit for whoever I work with and for my peace of mind.
You worked many years in the Beko BBL and was a very respected athletic trainer for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and now work with NBA players and guys playing abroad. What closing words would you like to give the basketball community?
I wish that everybody who is working in this circus that’s how I call it for me knows it´s sometimes kind of not the real world but whoever works in the circus knows its brutal daily reality but also day by day so much fun because you make people happy and with your performance you take them for some hours during a game or tournament into a fascinating world where you can allow emotions going up and down and forgetting for a minute about all the bad stuff were dealing with, so we are kind of entertainers but also this system is very sensitive and egos can destroy the entire show. Everybody has to know we just function in a symbiose together and we are all part of the puzzle and each piece is important if one is missing the whole picture, it isn´t fulfilled but therefore we have to take back our ego sometimes stepping out of our comfort zone to reach the big fulfilled picture and make it complete and working together to reach together the goal. That is also my hope since the basketball circus is so small and we see each other sooner or later again sometimes quicker than we can imagine that my story and situation will give a little bit more awareness that this is not just business because we are not dealing with machines, but were dealing with human beings and we all have to take care about human beings to make our love for the game and life to a better place. I thank you Miles for the interview with you and appreciate it very much.
Thanks Wiebke for the chat. Anyone wanting to donate for her full recovery please visit link https://www.gofundme.com/rehabtherehablady.