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Player, Coach, Therapist: Ryan Hebrink on His Passion for Athletics

Published in Rehabilitation Services, Medical Professionals Author: Ryan Hebrink,DPT

When it comes to sports, there is no bigger fanatic than Physical Therapist Ryan Hebrink. From playing baseball, to coaching football, to helping athletes at the Carris Health Clinic - Skylark Center, Ryan has found a way to keep his passion for athletics alive in all aspects of his life.

When Ryan decided to become a physical therapist, he knew athletics was the direction he wanted to go. Although he works with many types of conditions, Ryan has become one of go-to sports medicine therapists. “I enjoy working with athletes because they come in and work hard,” Ryan said. “They want to get back into the field of play and often times come out stronger than they ever were. That is very rewarding.”

Ryan believes the reason he is so passionate about sports therapy is that he has been an athlete his entire life. When he was in high school, Ryan was a three-sport standout at Renville County West High School, competing in football, basketball, and baseball. After graduating high school, Ryan continued his athletic pursuits at Concordia, Moorhead where he played quarterback on the football team and shortstop on the baseball team.

Even today, you can find Ryan on the baseball field, playing shortstop for the Sacred Heart Saints amateur baseball team. “I’ve always enjoyed being an athlete and this is an opportunity to continue to play,” Hebrink explained. “I also appreciate being able to take the field beside my friends and seeing a lot of familiar faces when we play other local teams.”

Ryan admits that the nature of his baseball career changed slightly as he now plays simply for the love of the game. “It’s fun to compete and of course you want to win games,” Hebrink said. “But when you don’t win, you still get to wake up the next morning, go to work, go home to your family and the world doesn’t end.”

His participation in baseball has also become more complicated as his children grow. With two sons and a daughter, Ryan has decided to change his focus to their athletic pursuits instead of his own. He currently helps coach both of his sons’ baseball teams and basketball teams.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ryan has also been the head coach for his hometown football team, the Renville County West Jaguars, since 2010. This decision was one Ryan didn’t expect to make so early in his career. However, when opportunity struck, he knew he couldn’t pass it up. “When I started working for ACMC-Willmar in 2008, the athletic director from the school asked me if I would be interested in coaching football,” Hebrink remembered. “I thought he just wanted me to help out a few days a week but ended up offering me the head coach position.”

Ryan accepted the coaching job and he’s now entering his ninth season as head coach this fall. “It has been a nice opportunity to be part of the school district and be able to watch the kids grow through the system,” he said.

As a coach and physical therapist, Ryan also recognizes how the two intertwine. “I see myself go back and forth between coaching and therapy every day,” Hebrink said.

While coaching, Ryan notices that he is making sure his athletes are taking care of their bodies and keeping themselves healthy on and off the field. He believes this is an important area to address in order to reduce the risk of injury and optimize performance.

Ryan also notices his coaching spirit come out in the physical therapy gym while working with his patients. “I encourage my patients to push themselves and do a little more than they think they can,” Hebrink explained. “I give them encouragement and I feel like there is a lot of carryover in my two roles.”

Although his passion still lies in sports medicine, Ryan recognizes the beauty in helping all types of patients get back to everyday activities. “When you get started in therapy, you realize how important it is for people just to get into their home or to their bathroom,” Ryan said. “I enjoy the mix of patients we serve from young babies to the elderly.”

Ryan also knows his heart will always be on the field and he’s proud to help serve athletes throughout the region. “When you only have four years of high school athletics, an injury can be devastating,” Ryan said. “If I can help my patients get better in any way and help them get back into the game, that is a great feeling.”