I’ve been asked many times by therapists and athletes alike why am I so intense and passionate about Sports Massage, and why am I so picky about who I work with. My love for sports medicine began my senior year in high school 2004. During football at the beginning of the season, I sustained some serious injuries.
Sticks And Stones
I had 2 severely sprained ankles that felt broken, and tendonitis in my right knee. Unfortunately, the care I received was that my ankles were constantly taped which made them worse, and my knee was just wrapped.
Mix that with the constant belittling from some of the coaches saying I was lazy and worthless to the team. That made my psyche believe that I was supposed to live with pain and play through it. Although I could hardly walk most of the time. It wasn’t until the start of the playoffs that I went in for Physical Therapy. That’s when my love began.
Once I became pain-free, I thought this is what I want to do, and I enrolled at Black Hills State University in 2005 for Pre Physical Therapy and played football. In the spring of 2006, I severely twisted my ankle and wasn’t effective. Plus being bullied by the head coach didn’t help either.
So that summer, I ultimately had left ankle surgery. After it was shown that I had a 1 in bone spur sticking out of my tibia, fibula and a 3″ hole on my tibia. After surgery, my heart wasn’t into athletics anymore. So I gave up being an athlete and switched my major to Exercise Science. To this day I couldn’t tell you why I switched majors.
The Love Of Sports
Fast forward to 2010. When I graduated it was the height of the recession, so there wasn’t any demand for personal training which was my original profession. I still wanted something to complement my degree but didn’t know what to pair it with. When I was trying to live in Phoenix on my third attempt, I attended an open house at a massage school after seeing an ad on TV.
Now keep in mind, I had absolutely no knowledge of massage when I went. For me, it looked like a great opportunity to get back in sports. It wasn’t until moving back to Phoenix in late 2012 that I became serious about school. When I started in January 2013, right from the start I bugged every teacher where can I go for sports. I was connected with the Fischer Institute, where I learned that they have an internship every year working on college football players training for the NFL Combine and their pro days.
No Walk In The Park
For anyone who thinks massage school is a walk in the park, I laugh at that. The school was fun, don’t get me wrong, but there was a lot of work that went into learning and practicing every massage technique and about business ethics. It was a tough time for me, too, because in March I lost one of my dearest best friends.
Plus I was working a job that wasn’t playing well in the beginning and was barely scraping by. I also had a car that would need new replacement parts. I was worried it would break down any second. After I connected with owner Brett Fischer who is the Staff Physical Therapist for the Arizona Cardinals. I graduated in August and became licensed in Sept, I wanted to get my hands on as many athletes as I could.
Marathon Not A Sprint
I did everything in the beginning, from working with a local track club to interning with the Cleveland Indians, all for free. I had some lucky breaks in my first year getting paid to work on Pro athletes. It wasn’t on a consistent basis. My first couple of years were really rough because even though I had the Fischer name behind me, It was still very difficult to convince people about the benefits of Sports Massage.
Also, I was so desperate to share what I had. I worked with people who were good at what they did, they just didn’t have a full understanding of how to promote sports massage. One of the companies even went as far as to say I was a waste of their time. I was in a deep depression during that time, but my luck started to turn around in January of 2016.
The Journey Continues
I became a Massage Captain to work on the media for the College Football National Title Game. In February, I got my first regular pro athlete and started working with someone who has a strong knowledge in Sports Medicine who could help with PR. After spending the rest of the year reaching out to potential connections, It wasn’t until Jan of 2017 that things really started to take off.
I traveled to Florida to participate in a highly unique sports massage training program. That program, coupled with what I’ve acquired in the past, gives me a niche in the Sports massage market. That sets me apart from other massage therapists. In May of 2017, I got my first major break when I partnered with one of the top sports chiropractors in the country. I worked on a player from the Detroit Tigers.
Then I worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Chase Field. Working on some of their player’s pre-game before they played the Diamondbacks. Besides having help with promotion, I have found my style for self-promotion. I’m really looking forward to the future.
I wrote this article, not for sympathy, but to give other therapists a better idea of what I’ve gone through to get where I am today. The lack of quality care I received early in my playing days is the main fuel behind why I’m driven to succeed. When I got licensed, I swore that no other athlete would go through what I did. That’s why I’m so dedicated to my craft. I do things my own way and created a style of how I work. I love working with other Sports Medicine professionals who share the same passion and dedication. I’ve earned everything I’ve ever accomplished. I’m looking forward to seeing Sports Massage become an essential component of Sports Medicine.
Guest Post by
QUINN SCHOENEWALD LSMT