CSUN Physical Therapy Scholars Honored by Dodger and Campanella Foundations

  • CSUN phsyical therapy students who are recipients of scholarships from a partnership between the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation were honored before a recent Dodger game. Photo by Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers.

  • Adam Moore and Stan Conte.

    CSUN physical therapy student Adam Moore interned with the Dodgers' medical staff, headed up by CSUN alumnus and Dodger Vice President, Medical Services Stan Conte. Photo by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers.

A little bit of Matador Red mixed in with Dodger Blue on the perfectly manicured grass at Chavez Ravine when a group of California State University, Northridge physical therapy students were honored before a recent Dodger game.

The 10 CSUN students benefited from a special partnership between the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation, which provides the students with physical therapy scholarships. Scholarships like these are a rarity, and a testament to a longstanding relationship between a Hall of Famer and the university.

After Roy Campanella was injured in a car accident in 1958 that left him paralyzed from the neck down, he moved to the West Coast and settled in the San Fernando Valley to pursue a second career in community relations, and mentoring young catchers during Spring Training for the Dodgers. He sought out physical therapy treatments to help him with his condition, which led to his Campanella Foundation funding scholarships for physical therapy students — as thanks for the good work their colleagues had done for him. This relationship with CSUN continued, even after Campanella’s death in 1993. Several years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation joined the partnership.

The arrangement expanded in 2010, when the Dodgers invited one of CSUN’s physical therapy students to intern with the team during Spring Training. This intern would learn alongside the Dodgers’ medical staff, headed up by Stan Conte ’78 (Physical Therapy), the team’s vice president for medical services.

Joining the 2015 scholarship recipients at the Dodger Stadium ceremony was Adam Moore, this year’s intern. Moore joined the Dodgers’ training staff at the beginning of February, working days that began before sunrise and ended after dinnertime, through the end of Spring Training. He treated some of the most recognizable names in Major League Baseball, as well as future stars in the minor leagues.

“It’s a great experience for CSUN,” Moore said. “I don’t know of too many programs that have an opportunity like this, especially with the Campanella Scholarship. Going through the program for three years, I’ve seen the recipients of the scholarship and how it has helped them. This opportunity to be able to work first-hand with the Dodgers is wonderful for the school — and CSUN as a whole — and the techniques and experiences I’ve learned here have prepared me for anything in my future career.”

Conte has kept ties with his alma mater throughout his decorated career in professional baseball, and he has noted the physical therapy program’s evolution from offering a bachelor of science to the doctorate program it provides today. Watching the interns grow while working with a professional sports organization has been a wonderful byproduct, he said.

“I’m very proud to be an alumni of Cal State Northridge and that program, and to see the students be able to go the next step,” Conte said. “Everybody wants to see their school do well. The physical therapy department at Cal State Northridge has done a great job of really serving the community. I can’t say this enough, college is so expensive, and to be able to go to a state university and also get scholarship money from the Dodgers allows [students] to get a good education, especially in this field.”

Standing proudly with Conte, Moore and the scholarship recipients was CSUN Dean of the College of Health and Human Development Sylvia Alva, under whose stewardship this partnership has grown. She talked about the scarcity of scholarships that are specific to physical therapy students, and how the Dodgers and the Campanella Foundation are making a difference in the lives of these students.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for us to strengthen our partnership with the Campanella family,” Alva said. “Joni [Campanella Roan, Roy’s daughter], through her family’s foundation, understood early on that many of our physical therapy students don’t have the financial support from scholarships to pay for their graduate education. Today’s event is a wonderful expression of the support from the Dodgers’ organization, to help our students finish their education and excel as they enter the profession of physical therapy.”

“My father always said physical therapists gave him the ability to get back into the game,” Campanella Roan added. “The recipients are all very caring, and they want to provide. To know that they’re out in the community, carrying along not just my father’s legacy, but more importantly what he felt so strongly about. I think that makes them more appreciative of receiving the award.”

At the scholarship event, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Executive Director Nichol Whiteman announced that the scholarship has been so successful that it will grow in the near future, increasing the number of scholarships from 10 to a minimum of 25 by 2017. This expansion of the partnership further strengthens an already-strong bond that will continue to flourish in the years ahead.

“Education and literacy is a serious focus area for us,” Whiteman said. “That’s where we’re investing most of our dollars right now, so this partnership is very important. College access, college success, graduate-school access and graduate-school success mean a lot to us.”

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