Khalani Hoyer applied to our summer internship program with an interest in pursuing a career in Physical Therapy. Interested in the transition of athletes from the rehabilitative phase of training to full recovery and application. To gain a better understanding of the role of a sports performance coach she sat down for a candid interview with North Bend High School baseball stand-out Jake Simmons.
While pitching in the middle of a game in the summer following his freshman year of High School, Jake Simmons suffered a spiral fracture of the humerus, a break that left the bone of the upper arm completely broken in half. Due to Jake's age and the possible impact on his development, his orthopedic surgeon elected to forego surgery. Simmons was placed in a plastic cast and sling, left to contemplate his uncertain future in athletics.
"I've known guys that had broken bones before, so at first I didn't really think much of it. It sucked, but I figured, you know I'd just heal up, go to physical therapy and it would be fine"
Once Simmons was out of his cast and cleared for physical activity, he was told by his physician that physical therapy was not "required", which meant the high costs associated with physical therapy would not be covered by his insurance plan. Even though the muscles throughout his arm and thoracic spine had lost considerable strength and mobility due to lack of use during the healing process, Jake began working to recover with strength classes at North Bend High School and Southwestern Oregon Community College.
Jake struggled to recover until basketball season began, when eventually he stopped lifting a trend that continued through the start of baseball season. Simmons reflected back “Nothing was really happening. My muscle was gaining back really fast in the arm but not in the way I wanted it. I just wasn't getting the production I was used to. It was discouraging."
Jake's mother Tobi Simmons also recognized her son wasn't returning to his previous form, and reached out to Northwest Fitness owner Henry Delaney. After testing Jake's arm mobility and analyzing his throwing motion, he came to the conclusion that the initial injury was likely caused by the angle of his pitching delivery, along with some pre-existing mobility issues, and overuse.
Simmons began training in evening sessions after practice, and early Saturday mornings, working to develop a healthier pitching delivery and creating more power from his hips instead of his previously shoulder dominant delivery. "Henry doesn't throw you out to the wolves. He makes sure you're ready before you go crazy. It's really just a different environment to work in ... it's been really fun."
Over the course of the 2017 High School baseball season Jake's adjustments began to pay dividends in his overall game play, translating not only to pitching, but also batting efficiency. Simmons closed out the season hitting over .500, and was selected as the Far West League MVP and First Team All-State honors. After working directly with a sports performance professional and experiencing first hand the opportunities it can provide for young athletes, Jake will be interning with Northwest Fitness this fall.