A final rotation during this DPT studies eventually led Jesse Phillips to a coveted position with the L.A. Clippers, serving as the senior performance physical therapist. Want to follow in his footsteps? There are several paths to this dream job, so blaze your own trail and never, ever give up.
How did you get your start working with professional sports teams?
I was fortunate to work at EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance) — both as my final rotation as well as after graduation. My contacts there referred a number of players to me during their off-seasons. One NBA team whose players I had worked closely with had an opening in their medical staff — and the rest is history!
How has your USC education helped you succeed in these positions?
USC provided an unparalleled educational experience. The faculty, staff and facilities afforded me every opportunity to succeed. I really want to emphasize the faculty, however. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the guidance and mentorship I received — particularly from John Meyer, Aimee Diaz and Jesus Dominguez.
What advice would you give a DPT student who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t get discouraged when you reach a roadblock. There isn’t one path to work in high-level sports, so if one route isn’t working, find another one. Many people I’ve met in pro sports have unique, interesting stories about how they got to be where they are. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
What’s the biggest perk about working for a pro sports team?
Being surrounded by intelligent, talented, motivated people who understand the importance of working collaboratively for the best interest of our players.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Everyone (literally everyone) can teach you something. Take the time to listen and learn.
Days vary quite a bit. Practice days include scheduled treatment sessions and weight room sessions for players prior to practice, with treatment and recovery sessions post-practice. On game days, we’ll typically shoot around at our practice facility in the morning with a similar treatment/lift routine and then an individuated pre-game prep program for each player before our coach addresses the team before tip-off! On travel days, we’ll usually schedule treatments and lifts for our players before we leave, but we’re always available when we get into a new city for anything our players might need.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to spend time with my wonderful wife Liz and our 2-year-old Golden Retriever, Luke.
ILLUSTRATION: Jaya Nicely