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Summer is heating up: the world has got its eyes on the 2020 Olympic games starting this month. Our very own CEO and Co-founder, Dan Rootenberg, jetted off to Japan to continue his work with the Israel national baseball team as their official physical therapist!
Team Israel is up against some of the biggest players in the world, with a need to be physically ready to perform at optimal levels for the international sporting event. Holding a true passion for baseball, Dan is excited to be able to help rehab and guide the all-star players. “It’s just about putting these professional athletes in the best position to be successful,” he says of the importance of his role.
Dan has been involved with the team since 2012, during the World Baseball Classic qualifiers. He also offered his attention and rehabilitation skills at the 2017 World Baseball Classic in Seoul, South Korea, helping the players by providing strength and conditioning and physical therapy guidance. “I played in the Israel baseball league, a pro league in Israel in 2007. My first son, Jack, was just born. I went out there and the relationships that I established there, that’s where a lot of this really came from. It started there during that league,” Dan recalls of his time. “The manager of the team, Eric Holtz, was a good friend of mine. Nate Fish [Third Base Coach] was another guy—we all played together. Shlomo [Lipetz], who’s a pitcher here, was a teammate of mine; Peter Kurz, who’s the general manager— his son was a teammate of mine. There’s a lot of personal connections here, and it’s amazing to see how much the sport of baseball has grown.”
SPEAR has been involved in the treatment of Team Israel players in the past as well. “We’ve treated a number of players in our SPEAR facilities; different physical therapists on the team have worked with a lot of these guys,” Dan recalls. “It’s nice to have that continuity because then they come here, I can talk to the therapist that treated them and then have a continuous program for them…it’s helpful to be able to take whatever they’ve been doing in the clinics, pair it with what they have to do on the field and then help them here…really it’s just about putting these professional athletes in the best position to be successful.”
Team Israel is up against some big contenders this summer: the United States, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. Currently ranked 24th in the world and 7th in Europe, the team is the competition’s endearing underdogs. The full roster consists of 12 pitchers, 3 catchers, 6 infielders, and 3 outfielders. The world’s got their eye on second baseman Ian Kinsler, former MLB all-star, who played for 14 seasons for the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres. The Summer Olympics are bound to be a hot one! Team Israel’s first match kicks off next Thursday, July 29th, against South Korea.
“Nobody expected us to be in the Olympics,” Dan says. “The fact that we’re there is pretty incredible in and of itself, and we’ve got a lot of a lot of high hopes about coming back with a medal.”
We are so proud and honored to have Dan there representing the field of physical therapy and its vital importance in the competition and the overall health and safety of the athletes.
Here’s a teaser of some awesome content we got on the pipeline, sure to be a home run: