Baseball is the Texas of Sport by Jordan Godfrey, CSCS
Being a Grasshopper is rewarding on multiple levels, but the greatest reward is that the Founder of Grasshopper Project, Erwin Benedict Valencia, is genuinely invested in you as a person and professional. Due to this, you find amazing opportunities to show up on your doorstep…. Quite literally! I was honored to be given the chance to host Jeremy Harris (JFH), the Minor League Physical Therapist for the Cleveland Indians, a fellow grasshopper in my home town, London.
I wanted to ensure that I gave JFH a typical British day and exposed him to our culture, especially as I was meeting him on his first day ever in the UK. I could not think of a better place to take him than Camden, a vibrant location of energy and people with unique backgrounds that are empowered to express themselves. The borough represents the make-up of London and what it means to be British, building an identity influenced by multiple cultures. We met at the Camden tube station (after both admittedly studying each other’s WhatsApp photos to try and recognize each other) and headed toward the energetic market. During this time, I learned that all Grasshoppers share the same energy and kindness/engagement, stemming from the Founder, who is truly human. Now, this may just be because I’m British and we perceive all American’s to be more friendly and talkative than us, but I was impacted instantly by how much interest someone so established could have in my career and who I am. This is exactly how I felt during my grasshopper experience. We discussed how JFH’s interest in charity (another clear defining feature of grasshoppers) led him to meet Erwin and how this helped shape his career ever since. – Good things come to those looking to help others clearly!
During this time, I learned how to improve myself as a practitioner. We discussed how he currently uses catapult to monitor load during rehabilitation, and how he collaborates with the team sports scientist to optimize this approach. This led to a lengthy discussion over the growth of the field and each role within it, the need for further education/qualifications, and methods to battle tendinopathy. Within these topics, JFH stated “Baseball is the Texas of sport” as it is very proud and routed to its ways and practice, and I think that is the greatest statement ever made. Before we knew it, hours had passed (all whilst nursing just a single drink, a poor showing by us both) and it was time to go our sperate ways. Saying goodbye already felt like I was parting with a good friend, and I know that I will be in contact often. I am so appreciative not only to JFH for his invaluable time, but for the grasshopper project for making this a possibility.
5 Things I Learned While Visiting Professional Sports Teams in the United Kingdom by Jeremy Harris, PT, ATC
- Be Comfortable Asking Uncomfortable Questions
Asking the question “why”? Often, these inquiries caused me to deeply question my clinical ethos, my approach to educating athletes, and my approach to speaking with other members of our staff. By being open to answering challenging questions; I in turn felt more comfortable asking these tougher questions to others, with the understanding that we would both grow from the answer.
2. The Best Clinicians are Always Learning and Growing
“We are still figuring it all out”.
What I found, to my surprise, was that each medical staff was just as interested in learning and growing with me, and discussing areas of growth was their interest as much as mine. This deeply inquisitive nature was shared by each clinician I met.
3. Never Take Good Growth for Granted
What they each strived to do was create a culture that fostered growth in each clinician on their staff. This style of leadership encouraged growth and developed a strong partnership between staff members, bound to one another by the concept of holistic growth.
4. A Club and Country’s Culture Can Be a Great Teacher
This concept is personified best by what I referred to as the “dressing room culture” that exists for some clubs. Upon receiving the facility tour during one of my visits, I was astounded to see the compact nature of the player dressing room. The common perception of the professional sports “locker room” was not quite what I found; here they were small with open stalls separated by no more than an inch or so of space. Each stall had a single hook hanging on the wall above a bench that wrapped around the whole of the room, and each athlete’s minimum essential items could be found within that space. Culturally, this creates the bond of unity and togetherness, pushing forward the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
5. Always “Wipe off your Shoes”
Whenever you arrive somewhere, you are always bringing with you the metaphorical “dirt” of what may be preconceived notions, life experiences, and pre-existing ideas. Wiping your shoes at the door, whether literally or figuratively, clears you of what may hold you back from learning new approaches to old questions. It in turn lets you be open to change, accepting of faults, and critical of your own ideas. For me, it was shedding my notion that clubs had their own ideas of “normal”, when in reality, they were re-creating their “normal” every single day. Each situation, whether it be dealing with clinical decisions, leadership, or staff growth, required re-defining this concept constantly.