From Dutchmen Baseball to the Cleveland Indians
While a student-athlete at Lebanon Valley College, baseball played a crucial role in the life of alum Dr. Andrew Pipkin ’08, D’11. Therefore, it is no surprise to find him close to the diamond as a professional, working as the Minor League Rehab Coordinator for the Cleveland Indians.
“First, I work to safely and efficiently return our rehabbing athletes, both Major and Minor league players, to playing at their optimal level. This means creating effective rehab plans, and coordinating care with the rest of the medical and decision-making personnel,” explains Pipkin. “Second, I assist our athletic training and strength and conditioning staff in helping keep our healthy athletes playing at the highest level possible over the course of the season.”
Though accomplished in his own right, Pipkin cites his experiences and mentors at the College as instrumental in receiving his current position: “I would not have had the opportunity that I have now without all of their guidance and support. Looking back, I’m very thankful that I made the decision to attend LVC.”
The decision to attend LVC stemmed from the combination of academic and athletic opportunities available to students.
“LVC’s Physical Therapy Program allowed me to complete all of my PT education at one school, and gave me the best chance to play college baseball, my life-long passion,” recalls Pipkin.
While at the College, Pipkin played vital roles on the team as a pitcher for four years and co-captain his senior year. He also participated in program-led community service projects, such as the annual Cystic Fibrosis Day, hosted by the baseball program.
His dual role as a student-athlete taught Pipkin several invaluable skills, such as work-life balance, that he feels he could not have learned in any other capacity.
“This experience taught me vital skills in time management, and balancing multiple tasks at one time, which I use every day to balance different tasks at work,” explains Pipkin.
After completing his undergraduate education, Pipkin remained involved in the baseball program as a graduate assistant baseball coach, while completing the graduate portion of the Physical Therapy Program.
“Coach [Keith] Evans approached me about helping out with the team, and I jumped at the opportunity,” details Pipkin. “It was a great way for me to stay involved in baseball, while also completing the rest of my graduate coursework.”
Pipkin found that coaching gave him a different perspective on the game, which forced him to be a better leader and communicator to motivate the players to play their best game.
“My favorite memories of coaching are of helping the younger players—several of whom I had played with—learn and grow into better players. These leadership and communication skills were great learning experiences and help today with my current position,” recounts Pipkin.
While his time on the baseball diamond was important, even more influential was the skill set and professional advice Pipkin received as a student in the Physical Therapy Department.
“I knew that I wanted to work with athletes even when I was in PT school, and Dr. [Michael] Lehr and Dr. [Claudia] Gazsi helped me earn a clinical affiliation with EXOS (formerly Athletes’ Performance) in Phoenix, Ariz. This gave me my first exposure to working with professional athletes, and it solidified my decision that I wanted to be able to help elite athletes return to playing their sport,” recalls Pipkin.
Regarding his PT coursework, Pipkin remembers the musculoskeletal and orthopedic component as one aspect of the program that was particularly challenging and rewarding.
“This component of the LVC Physical Therapy Program pushed me to be detail-oriented, and became the foundational knowledge that I was able to build on after graduating. A strong background in musculoskeletal rehabilitation and attention to detail are things that I have to possess in my current role,” recounts Pipkin.
After completing his undergraduate and graduate education at the College in 2011, Pipkin held a position as a staff physical therapist at St. Mary’s Hospital near Leonardtown, Md. In 2013, he completed a residency in sports physical therapy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, followed by an Upper Extremity Athlete Fellowship at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
Even after graduating, the LVC faculty were eager to help Pipkin with these next stages in his career: “When I was applying for these residency and fellowship programs, I needed references. Dr. Fink not only wrote me a letter of recommendation but he also made sure to call the program and give them his verbal endorsement of me as a candidate. I don’t know that I would have gotten into either of these programs without him as a reference.”
These faculty members and the experiences they facilitate left a lasting impression on Pipkin as a professional, and have helped shape his conduct in the field.
“LVC’s Physical Therapy Program instilled in me the values of continuing to learn and improve myself even after I graduated. I have sought out opportunities to continue to learn and grow as a professional after graduation, and plan to continue to do this for the rest of my career.”