Trained to Fight

by Brett Rybak

On a night when the Ohio State women’s soccer team honored all those who have fought and who continue to fight breast cancer on Buckeyes Go Pink Night Thursday at Bert L. & Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, a member of the program was on the minds of many as the Buckeyes topped the Maryland Terrapins. Members of the team recently discovered that student athletic trainer Catie Landi, who has been with the Buckeyes throughout the 2019 campaign, has been battling the disease for the last year.

Landi, whose mom’s family is from Canton and had grandparents go to school at Ohio State, is in her first year with the athletic training program after falling in love with the line of work while in high school. Diagnosed Oct. 5, 2018, she has been undergoing treatment for the disease but thinks working in her role with the team has been beneficial throughout the process.

“Working with the team while studying and undergoing treatment has been a tough balance,” Landi said. “But it keeps me motivated throughout my treatment and treatment keeps me motivated to come out here to work with the team. Treatment’s been going wonderfully and I’m just really happy to have the team that I do.”

However, the women’s soccer Buckeyes were unaware that the student athletic trainer who has been with them from start of the 2019 season has been fighting the ailment.

“I’m a shy person and telling my story isn’t always easy,” Landi said. “But the support from the team, coaching staff, other athletic training students and my certified athletic trainer, Katie Walker, has been really comforting and shows me that people are and always will be here for me. Katie’s been fantastic. She’s been accommodating throughout the entire process and I can’t praise her enough.”

However, Walker thinks Landi is the one who has been a blessing to the athletic training staff and soccer program.

“She really has shown her level of dedication to what she does for us on a daily basis,” Walker said. “If I wouldn’t have found out about her diagnosis from her academic counselor, I wouldn’t have known. She doesn’t let anybody know what she may be going through and she comes to work hard every day. Catie’s been tremendous to work with.”

Lori Walker-Hock, the Buckeyes’ head coach, thinks that Landi’s story has been motivating to all around her.

“The first thing that was amazing was that nobody knew,” Walker-Hock said. “She’s been showing up every day, through preseason in the heat. We’re here sometimes 12- to 15-hour days and she’s been here grinding it out with us. So when we discuss the Buckeyes Go Pink Night, I always ask the staff if there’s anybody we can celebrate and that’s when our athletic trainer Katie Walker brought up Catie’s name up to me. I was shocked. To know that she’s been there through thick and thin with us and never complained or said a word while being treated weekly, I just have so much respect having watched so many people go through this. Her strength and willingness to do her job is something special.”

“She really has shown her level of dedication to what she does for us on a daily basis,” Walker said. “She doesn’t let anybody know what she may be going through and she comes to work hard every day. Catie’s been tremendous to work with.”

Senior co-captain Marike Mousset, whose mother Josee Saint-Pierre, also a breast cancer survivor on hand for Buckeyes Go Pink Night Thursday, has been inspired by Landi’s dedication to the team throughout her battle.

“She’s always the first one to help us with anything we might need we didn’t have any idea about what she was going through until this week,” Mousset said. “She’s been with us throughout all of this and has told us that it means so much to her to work with us when it’s really the other way around. What she’s done for us through this means the world to us so even though she’s used to helping us, we want to support her in any way we can. It’s just really inspiring.”

The Buckeyes continue their 2019 season when they host Penn State Sunday, a year and a day after Landi’s diagnosis. One thing is for sure, their student athletic trainer will be there, like always, to provide more support than she knows.