L.A. Lakers’ Secret Weapon
My boyfriend, knowing the crazy fan I am about anything PT, sent me this article containing a great interview with LA Lakers’ head physical therapist, Dr. Judy Seto. I have heard about her through fellow PTs and was excited when she was made head PT of the Lakers. Here’s part 1 of the interview with her, part 2 is to follow later this week.
I think she gave great answers, and like how she emphasized that a therapist has to prove themselves and that you can’t just go and sign up to work with a pro sports team. Hope that helps other individuals looking into doing PT get a better idea of what it actually entails.
Here are some key Q and As from the article:
MT: Being able to have such an impact on a pro sports team is something that I’m sure interests a lot of folks in or looking to get into PT. What do you tell those that inquire?
Dr. Seto: People always ask me how I got started, saying that they want to work with pro athletes. But no one just jumps into doing this. You have to prove yourself. The Kerlan-Jobe doctors work with many athletes, and they’re not just going to hand someone over who is unproven when there’s a lot at stake. So when you first begin at the clinic, you might start working with recreational or high school athletes, some college or semi-pro, and gain the athletes’ and doctors’ trust. At a certain point you might get a pro athlete and the doctors and teams see how you do. If that relationship or treatment isn’t good, why would they send you another player? But as they start to trust you more and more, you get a reputation of being able to produce good outcomes for athletes. This type of professional relationship grows naturally, and isn’t something you can demand.
MT: Because some people aren’t used to seeing women behind the bench, where do the team doctors and training staff sit?
Dr. Seto: Right, it’s not fathomable for some people to think there are females working with NBA teams. It isn’t common. I think Houston had a female assistant trainer at one point but I don’t think there is any longer. I’m the only full time female physical therapist with an NBA team. But the players don’t care if you’re male or female, not at all. If you can help them, you’re the person.
MT: What does being the only woman working full-time with a training staff in the NBA mean to you?
Dr. Seto: It’s refreshing to know that people are asking me how I got my job, but they’re not just asking me what it’s like to be a woman in the NBA. They want to know about my expertise. That shows progress from where the position was, as barriers continue to be broken down, and perceptions change about women working in sports medicine. I remember my first supervisor telling me that because you’re a female in the sports medicine world, you have to be 10 times better than the guy next to you to be thought of in the same light. That’s just the reality of how it was … and I think he was right. It’s not something that you wish for, but you can’t change people’s perceptions immediately. Now, as long as you’re good at what you do, doctors and athletes could care less about you being male or female. Because I’ve worked with a lot of teams in various sports, they now just send me people because of my track record. And I certainly don’t take it for granted that the Lakers have added a full time physical therapist because it’s not role traditionally a part of a professional team’s training staff though that is gradually changing.