Main Navigation

Humans of the U: Kristen Santos-Griswold

“I am someone who got better at my sport at an older age. After high school, a lot of people will go all-in on their sport and hold off on college. But I really wanted to have a college experience so I would juggle both. Sometimes, I just focused on skating, and other times I focused more on school. Because of this, it took me nine years to complete my undergraduate degree in kinesiology. But I did it!

For me, I think this was the best thing I could have done. I think it’s typical in sports for a lot of people to feel like they have to be all-in at a very young age. But that can lead to a lot of burnout, or you may be too young to be as self-motivated as you need to be. Because I took my own path and went to college, when I skate right now, it’s because I want to. I want to push myself. And I know this is where I want to be because I have experienced other parts of life.

After the 2022 Beijing Olympics, I planned on being done with skating. I applied for the physical therapy graduate program at the U and was accepted to the residential program. But at the Olympics, I had a change of heart, because I had gone into the Games prepared and expecting to medal, but was kept from the podium because someone took me out. After that happened, I felt like I had unfinished business in the sport, so I decided to keep skating so I could go to the next Olympics. I then decided to do the hybrid physical therapy graduate program. 

The whole reason I wanted to become a physical therapist was because of speed skating. I have worked with physical therapists forever on multiple different things. I’ve had physical therapists who made all the difference in making me feel like I can improve. And I’ve had ones who have either dismissed my injury or who have told me I’d never skate again. These differing experiences made me want to become a physical therapist who will acknowledge that going through an injury is a serious experience while helping people be optimistic and motivated to improve and recover.  

Since starting my physical therapy graduate program, I’ve learned a lot about how my body works and moves, and my skating has really benefited from that. I am by no means a physical therapy expert yet, but I have more of an understanding of better ways to recover, what my body needs and how that differs from other people. It’s exciting for my sport and my studies to intertwine with each other.”

— Kristen Santos-Griswold, Olympian and physical therapy graduate student