UNLV Hockey athletic trainer Kendell Galor wins gold medal with Team USA
July 27, 2017
By Megan Edmunds
After a fifteen-hour flight to Israel, three and a half weeks of being the sole athletic trainer for three different Team USA squads and gold medal under her belt, Skatin’ Rebels head athletic trainer Kendell Galor is back in Las Vegas with even more experience and confidence than before, ready to help the UNLV ice hockey team succeed in its first season at the ACHA D1 ranks.
Galor was chosen as one of fifteen athletic trainers from the United States to tend to Team USA athletes at the Maccabiah Games, the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition. The Maccabiah Games occur every four years and are often referred to as “the Jewish Olympics.” A fair share of big-name athletes have represented their country and Jewish heritage at the Maccabiah games in the past, including Olympian gymnast Aly Raisman in 2013.
Entering her third season with UNLV, Galor’s experience at the collegiate level was key to her success in Israel in July with Team USA.
“It has definitely prepared for moving forward in my career. In Israel, I had about 75 athletes across three teams and many were the same age as a lot of our UNLV guys,” she said. “Already being with a college team really prepared me for going into this experience that was very much run like a professional team.”
This wasn’t her first experience with the Maccabiah Games. In 2013, she was in Israel and had the opportunity to intern with athletic training staff. When the planning and staffing for this year came around, she decided that she would like to participate again – this time as a professional. She submitted her application and in a matter of days she was interviewed and added to the staff.
Some of the athletic teams at the Maccabiah Games had multiple athletic trainers to their avail, but Galor was the only athletic trainer that worked with the three hockey teams – Juniors, ages 15 to 18; Open, ages 19 to mid-20s; and Masters, ages 40+. Many players had professional and collegiate experience, coming from all across the United States including some of UNLV’s rival schools. That’s a big reason why representing the Rebels while in Israel was important to Galor, and she did so by sporting UNLV apparel every chance she had.
“Being able to represent UNLV was a privilege to me because I have a strong school spirit, having gone there for six years between my undergrad and my Master’s,” she said. “Two of my favorite things are representing USA and UNLV. There aren’t words to describe the feeling.”
Traveling across the globe to spend three and a half weeks with a few teams full players she had never met before may seem like an intimidating feat, but the whole group clicked almost instantly. For Galor, that was the greatest part of the experience.
“I’ve worked with UNLV for two years now and we’re a very close-knit group, like a family. However, I have never been a part of a team that became so close-knit as fast as with Team USA,” she said. “A lot of these guys never had the chance to play with another Jewish player until now, so sharing that culture was something special too.”
The opportunity to be on the bench during the Juniors gold medal-winning game was another once-in-a-lifetime experience for Galor. It was her final game in Israel and she already had a silver and bronze medal to her name, from the Open and Master’s teams, respectively. Being able to cap off the experience with the top honor of the tournament captured by the undefeated Team USA Juniors team was the icing on the cake.
“It meant a lot to be able to celebrate with this group of crazy goofy teens who put their differences aside and worked relentlessly to win this gold medal, not only for themselves but also their country,” she said. “It was an unreal experience to be able to take the flag off the back of the bench, put it around my neck and go out on the ice to share it with them.”
Preparing for the upcoming season, Galor feels that she learned a lot of things that she can put into practice with UNLV. She looks forward to the season kicking off, especially with the team in its first year at the Division 1 ranks.
“Going into this season with UNLV, I do have greater appreciation for how difficult it is to run a program from top to bottom,” she said. “UNLV is still a young program but they’ve done a fantastic job putting together the legacy that is UNLV Ice Hockey.”
Now with the experience of the Maccabiah Games added to her repertoire, Galor is looking forward to seeing how far she can propel up the ranks in the hockey world.
“This has shown me how fun it is to work with a professionally-run organization, so now more than ever I will be pushing even harder to get to a higher level,” she said. “I’m not giving up on the idea of being the first female NHL head athletic trainer.”
Header photo courtesy of Eyal Warshavsky, in-article photos courtesy of Dr. Anthony Abene