When I was a young boy growing up in New Jersey, I dreamed of playing professional baseball. I was a good baseball player, but as years passed I soon realized my talents did not quite match my desires. As fate would have it, in 2005 I found myself walking into the clubhouse of the Kansas City Royals Spring Training clubhouse as the consulting chiropractor.
Having a passion for sports and an interest in personal fitness, upon graduation from Logan University I began my Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician studies. Upon my certification, my wife and I moved to Arizona to begin my practice in 1993. In 2004, I received a call from a classmate from Miami, Dr. Todd Narson, who was currently treating the Kansas City Royals General Manager, and connected me with him as they had recently moved from Florida to Arizona for spring training.
After my conversation with the GM, he put me in contact with the Royals chiropractor in Kansas City, Dr. Patrick Hammond. Following a meeting with Dr. Hammond, he arranged for me to contact the Royals head trainer to put a schedule together. To reinforce the importance of establishing solid relations, one of my teachers from Logan University, Dr. Ralph Filson, was the current chiropractor for the St. Louis Cardinals. This allowed me the opportunity to reach out to one of my mentors who was more than willing to help me navigate these uncharted waters. I remember my conversation with him, his primary advice being—make sure they know you are a team player and respect the other professionals with whom you will work. This was another example of a prior relationship aiding in my journey.
Unfortunately, in mid-year 2006, the GM who brought me on board was let go. I thought my time with the Royals was over, but to my surprise, the head trainer called me the next year to continue on. Then in 2009, I received a letter from the same head trainer thanking me for me service as he informed me of his retirement. Once again, I thought my association with the Royals would also end, until a phone call from the new trainer expressed interest in having me return. This was despite the fact he was unfamiliar with how chiropractic fit in as part of a medical team. His comment to me was he was aware that the players have liked having a chiropractor available in the training room. The following season I was pleased to receive another phone call inviting me back. Our professional relationship has transitioned into personal friendship and continues be one of mutual respect.
My good fortune has been directly related to the relationships I have been able to build over the years. If not for my friend having confidence in my abilities, the door to the Royals would not have opened. My relationship with Dr. Hammond continues to grow both personally and professionally as we work together to provide the organization the benefits of chiropractic. I remember talking with the head trainer in 2005, a few weeks into my first year working directly with the players. He told me that the players liked me. I cannot stress enough how important that statement is. Not only did they appreciate the services I offered, he said they liked me personally. It might not sound like a big deal, but working with a team as part of a medical staff at any level comes down to your ability to connect. They EXPECT your skill level to be exceptional. It is your LIKABILITY that will keep you there. Don’t you find yourself working with those professionals that not only excel at their craft, but also possess a pleasing personality?
A few years back I was invited to join an exceptional organization of chiropractors, the Professional Baseball Chiropractic Society (PBCS). These are the chiropractors that are affiliated with professional baseball at the Major and Minor League levels. Through this organization I have had the opportunity to continue to grow both personally and professionally. So what has been most beneficial for me as member of the PBCS? The personal relationships I have formed with these amazing doctors.
I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with professional athletes. For many chiropractors reading this who are interested in working with athletes, the road may seem long and arduous. My advice — never give up on your dreams! Start at the community level, volunteering with high school teams. Create the associations that will provide you future potential connections with local colleges or professional organizations. Also, make sure you write personal notes to the professionals that you have the opportunity to meet. Do not underestimate the impact of this simple gesture!
We all know the power of chiropractic, but many of the trainers, orthopedists, and PTs possess either neutral or negative opinions. Do your best to change their opinion by treating them with respect while earning theirs in return. I would also contact professional organizations such as the PBCS to see how they may help. Knowing these doctors personally, I believe I can say with confidence that many would be happy to speak with you to offer any advice possible. Remember, you are not alone!
Chiropractic continues to expand its role at all levels within the sporting arena. My road was paved by those who came before me and for those who come after me; I believe it is my obligation to continue their legacy.
In conclusion, continue to refine your knowledge and skills regarding sports medicine, be willing to offer your services for nothing more than knowing you are helping others, and always present yourself professionally to all you meet. Best of luck and I hope to see you on the field/arena/court/rink/etc. some day!