30 Mar 6 DCs Share Their Most Memorable Moments Working in Pro Sports
By Christina DeBusk
We all have those moments in our lives that, when we look back on them, we can’t help but let a smile spread across our face.
Some of these moments are personal in nature, like thinking back to the day we were married, the moment our children entered this world, or the second we crossed the finish line in the race we weren’t sure we could run.
Other memorable moments are centered around our careers. With that thought in mind, here are six such moments as shared by a handful of sports DCs who are responsible for treating some of the world’s most elite athletes.
Jason T. Levy, DC, ART, CCSP, CKTP
Director of Advanced Performance & Rehabilitation Center with locations in Short Hills and Morristown, NJ, and team chiropractor for the New York Jets (NFL), New Jersey Devils (NHL), and New York Red Bulls (MLS)
For Levy, one of his most memorable moments was during his very first season with the Jets. “It was one of our first Monday night games in Miami,” he recalls, “and one of the players pulled a hamstring on first kickoff of the game.”
As a result, Levy says that he spent the entire game working on the player’s hamstring, doing soft tissue work and ART every time he was on the sidelines. He worked on him to the point where his forearms and hands “were just killing me” on the plane trip back home.
Yet, it isn’t necessarily the amount of work he did on the player that causes this game to stick in his mind. Instead, it was the result of this hard work…and the player’s response.
“I don’t recall the outcome of the game,” says Levy, “but I kept him in the game and he was crazy grateful.” In fact, the player went up to Levy multiple times during the game and thanked him for all he was doing, thanking him again once the season was over.
“You care about your players the way you care about all your patients,” Levy says. “You have a sense of being part of it and contributing to the win or the game when you’re able to keep the guys on the field.”
Stuart E. Yoss, DC, CCSP, ART
Active Release Technique Provider and Clinic Director at Bannockburn Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center, with offices in Bannockburn and Northbrook, IL, and team chiropractor for the Chicago Blackhawks, Bears, and Bulls
Yoss shares that his most memorable moment occurred right after the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2015 Stanley Cup. “We were all in the locker room celebrating the victory,” says Yoss, and Coach Joel Quenneville came over to me and said, ‘I don’t know what the hell you did, but thank you for getting Shawzy [Andrew Shaw] on the ice.’
Earlier in the day, during the morning skate, Shaw had reached for a puck and strained his lower back. “When I got down to the arena, he came walking over to me in the shape of a question mark,” says Yoss, “and said to do whatever I need to do to get him ready. He was not going to miss this game.”
The reason this one was so important was, if the Blackhawks won, it would be the first time they won a Stanley Cup on home ice since 1961. “I worked on him for a while,” says Yoss, “much longer than I ever had before. The training staff also helped. It was definitely an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
It worked too. “By the time I was done with [Shaw], he was standing up straight and was able to play,” says Yoss. “I knew my name wasn’t going to be on the Lord Stanley’s Cup, but just hearing the coach acknowledge me like that was all I needed.”
Jay Greenstein, DC, CCSP, CKTP, CGFI
Founder and CEO of Sport and Spine Rehab and Sport and Spine Athletics, with locations in VA and MD, and team provider for the NFL’s Washington Redskins Cheerleaders and Arena Football League’s Washington Valor
Greenstein indicates that two points in time stick out to him as being memorable during his career thus far.
The first was when he was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. While there, he and a team of healthcare providers decided to quickly set up a sort of pop-up clinic to help take care of athletes who were competing without a chiropractor on their healthcare team.
This meant working swiftly to get the things they needed, which included tables to treat the athletes and EHRs to record their information. “They made me the ‘dude in charge,’” Greenstein says proudly because he felt so honored to be able to treat athletes from around the world who didn’t have the resources to have chiropractors on their medical staff.
Another instance that sticks out in his mind was just this past year, when he worked with the Washington Valor football team. “There were definitely tough times throughout the season,” he says, yet they did end up getting in the championship and winning.
“Players were coming up to us saying, ‘You were part of this!’ he recalls, adding, “The guys were always super appreciative of the care that was given to them. They recognized the value of chiropractic. That we were there to support them.”
Beau Daniels, DC
Co-founder and Executive Director of Mamba Sports Academy, and official chiropractor for the Los Angeles Rams
Like the others, Daniels’ most memorable moment also revolved around helping a player become his absolute best.
“A few seasons ago, I worked with an NBA athlete for an entire offseason that was rehabbing from a very serious injury that was preventing him from performing his sport at 100 percent,” remembers Daniels. “He had a grade 3 osteochondral lesion in his knee that prevented him from fully sprinting, jumping, and changing direction on that leg.”
“This athlete was very physically gifted and really had not trained physically much,” says Daniels. Instead, he relied only on “his youth, talent, and god-given physical ability.”
Therefore, Daniels’ initial goal was to establish a relationship with this athlete while restoring function in his knee. Then, he was intent on using that relationship to influence the athlete’s perception of training and getting him to eat right, ultimately increasing the longevity in his sport.
“Over the last few years, this athlete has changed his view on what it means to truly train and invest in yourself over time,” says Daniels. “He eats well, trains hard all offseason, and most importantly, has no knee pain currently.” Sometimes a little influence goes a long way.
Mary Collings, DC
Owner of Highland Park Spine & Sports Medicine in Dallas, TX, and team chiropractor for the NHL’s Dallas Stars and NBA’s Dallas Mavericks
Collings’ remembers one moment in particular, though instead of it involving any active effort on her part, what makes it memorable is the growth she was able to witness in her players.
It was during the 2011 NBA season for the Dallas Mavericks and “Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd were sitting in the hot tub,” Collings says, “and J Kidd was explaining to Dirk the need for him to motivate the younger players and assure them that our team was fully capable of winning the championship.”
According to Collings, “Dirk was not particularly ‘chatty’ in that stage of his career, but Jason told him it HAD to be from him. So, Dirk went into the locker room, gave the speech, and that’s when I saw #41 become the leader he is to this day.”
The reason this is so memorable for Collings is because “it makes me proud to see how these boys learned to ‘win,’” says Collings. “It takes more than points on a board to win a game. Athletes in all levels have to learn how to practice, sleep, eat, and support each other to become a winning team.”
Collings adds, “I can’t wait to see that dedication in each of my athletes in the locker room again someday.”
Hirad Najaf Bagy, DC
Founder and president of United Wellness & Sports Rehab in Falls Church, VA (the suburbs of Washington DC), and team chiropractor for the Washington Redskins, Washington Nationals, and D.C. United pro soccer team
Najaf Bagy says, “One of the most memorable moments was when I was first offered a professional position with D.C. United in 1998. That was a big step for me professionally. It was a snapshot I’ll never forget.” But how did this offer come about?
“I’m a big soccer fan and D.C. United was practicing around the street from me,” says Najaf Bagy. So, he’d often go over there at lunch time and watch them practice. At one point, he approached the head therapist, but since sports chiropractic was new at the time, Najaf Bagy says he was “put on the shelf as a back doctor” and was told that they’d let him know if they needed him.
“Shortly after, [the head therapist] started sending a couple of the athletes over for adjustments,” says Najaf Bagy. “Then, one day before playoffs, he asked, ‘Could you come here? We have a player with a back injury.’”
Of course, Najaf Bagy obliged and, with the head coach, head trainer, and about half dozen other players sitting there, Najaf Bagy went to work. “I assessed him and there was a rib subluxation that they had missed or wasn’t able to adjust. I adjusted the rib and it made this huge noise. Everybody’s eyes opened up.”
Najaf Bagy had the player sit up and take a couple of breaths. At this point, the player turned to the coach and said, “I’m playing tomorrow.” After everyone left, Najaf Bagy went to the head trainer and said, “I really want a job here.” That’s when the trainer responded, “You know what? I think we can make something work.”
Though that was a long time ago, great memories are still being made, says Najaf Bagy. Such as this past year when the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup. But this memory is important because it is one which involves his professional and personal life both.
“To be able to have me and my 14-year-old son take a picture with the Stanley Cup with the players, to be able to hold it, to be able to share that with him, that was a big memorable moment for our family,” says Najaf Bagy.
Even though it was a Saturday morning and, while out to breakfast with his son as part of their usual routine, Najaf Bagy suggested they go do something, to which his son responded, “I don’t really feel like it.” That quickly changed, however, when Najaf Bagy revealed that he wanted to go get a picture of the Stanley Cup. “I’m in,” his son said.
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