When Adam Moore ’15 (D.P.T., Physical Therapy) was finishing up his undergraduate degree at Cal State Long Beach and looking toward his post-graduate work, he focused on California State University, Northridge. And for good reason.
Moore saw one of the top programs in the country, which had expanded to offer a doctorate in physical therapy. Yet, there was something more that he saw as key: the CSUN Department of Physical Therapy’s relationship with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Every year, the ballclub chooses one Matador student to attend spring training with the Dodgers’ medical staff — a rarity in professional sports — learning alongside some of baseball’s top medical professionals and treating players who entertain millions of fans every year. Leading that medical staff is Stan Conte ’78 (Physical Therapy), who spearheaded the program because he knew the quality of CSUN students.
Moore dove into his CSUN doctoral studies and early internships in hopes of contending for this rare opportunity. In October 2013, he applied for and was selected to be the Dodgers’ physical therapy intern. The only problem was having to wait almost a year and a half for the assignment to work with the team’s medical staff.
By the time January 2015 rolled around, Moore was ready. He received an email from his predecessor, Tyler Dorrel ’14 (M.S., Physical Therapy), who had worked in the internship in 2014. Dorrel shared his insights on the hours, daily routine and what to expect during the two-month rotation.
Not long after Moore reported to the Dodgers’ Arizona spring training facility, the players started reporting to camp for their physicals. There was a steady stream of All-Stars: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, to name just a few. It would have been easy to be star-struck, but Moore had a job to do.
“After the first couple days of shock and awe of seeing these guys in person, you realize that they’re just normal guys going through their daily routines,” Moore said. “They respect that you treat them like that, and don’t treat them any different than you would anybody else. The medical staff treats them the way they want to be treated — with respect — and I just followed their lead. It’s fun treating these guys and watching them play every night.”
Moore found himself helping the big league players early on, and then, when the minor leaguers reported to spring training a couple weeks later, Moore filled an educational role as well as offering medical treatment. While the major leaguers are older and have more established training regimens, the minor leaguers — some still teenagers — are still learning about their bodies. These players are learning how to train effectively, how to listen to their bodies, and how to recover and be ready for the next game — as well as the daily grind of playing baseball from April through the end of September.
“Most of them didn’t really know why they were hurting in certain areas,” Moore said. “So, it was a lot of education — just telling them, ‘This is why you’re hurting, this is what you can do to help yourself and this is what I can do to help you so you don’t have this problem in the future.’ Once they understood this concept and how they could help themselves, I felt like they were better off in the long run.”
The players weren’t the only ones facing long, grueling hours. The medical staff logs long days during spring training. From the beginning of February until the end of March, the training staff starts work before dawn, as many players start their days before 6 a.m. — some even earlier. This includes weekends.
“The first week was probably the roughest — [I was] not used to being on my feet that much,” Moore said. “I was constantly busy with something, so I didn’t feel like I was there for that long. But at the end of the day, 6 o’clock would roll around and you’d be like, ‘OK, I’ve been here close to 13 hours now.’ Then I really didn’t have anything else to do but just go home and eat dinner, go to bed, and wake up and do it again in the morning.”
Conte, who helped forge the Dodgers’ relationship with CSUN in 2010, watched closely.
“[The CSUN interns] have done really well,” Conte said. “Adam Moore, this year, has been exemplary in regards to working hard. One of the biggest things is they don’t realize how many hours we put in. We say they have to be there at 5:30 in the morning, and they’re still there at 6 or 7 at night. At first, they don’t think it’s too much, but then after three or four weeks, they realize it’s not going to get any better. To a person, they’ve done very, very well.”
“It’s been a humbling experience watching Stan work,” Moore said. “He’s one of the most respected and knowledgeable people I’ve had a chance to work with. It’s been a great experience to be a sponge and absorb all the knowledge that he spews out when he’s talking.”
Moore’s work did not finish when spring training wrapped. He was invited to continue working with the Dodgers in Los Angeles through the start of the 2015 season. He worked with several pitchers on shoulder-strengthening programs. In May, he received his doctorate from CSUN — as part of the department’s first Doctor of Physical Therapy cohort — and he is now working at Beach Cities Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Torrance. He looks back at his internship with the Dodgers as a wonderful experience that prepared him for anything.
“The opportunity to work with the Dodgers is the main reason I selected CSUN over other programs,” Moore said. “It [gave] me [an] edge just to have the opportunity to … do the internship with the Dodgers. All the students that have gone before me, everybody [with the Dodgers] had nothing but great things to say about them and their work ethic. So I knew that CSUN prepared me for going out there and doing the internship. I felt a little bit more comfortable with that, and then talking to the guys that have gone out there before.
“They said, ‘Put your head down and keep working.’ I haven’t found anybody else that has an opportunity like this for a physical therapy student to be working with a professional team, and I attest that to Stan’s relationship with the CSUN department. I tried to do everything I could to further enhance that relationship by helping out as much as possible.”