Troy Jones '02 (Kinesiology), MPT '04 (Physical Therapy)
Rehabilitation coordinator for the Braves
When you see Atlanta Braves all-star Brian McCann launch a home run or Jason Heyward throw out a runner at the plate, you’re watching some of Troy Jones’ handiwork.
Jones is the minor league rehabilitation coordinator for the Braves. Whenever a player in the organization is on rehab assignment for an extended time, it’s Jones’ job to prepare them to return to the diamond at full strength.
Working at the Braves’ spring training facility in Orlando, Fla., Jones works with players from the organization’s six minor-league teams and with major league players when they require therapy for an extended time.
It’s a dream job for a life-long baseball fan, who also happens to be a top-notch physical therapist. He takes his baseball mitt to work every day and gets to know a lot of pro athletes on a personal level.
“One of the beauty things about this job is I get to play catch with the guys and catch bullpen for the pitchers,” Jones says. “Like any job it’s got its plusses and minuses, but it’s definitely an enjoyable occupation.”
Jones aspired to work in professional sports while he was in high school and initially attended North Idaho College, but his financial aid fell through and he took a job in construction, where he remained for more than a decade. He was seeking a more stable career and met with professor Doris Flores, who introduced him to the physical therapy program at Sac State. He was 32 when he started as an undergraduate.
Jones never wavered in his desire to work with athletes. While completing his master’s degree at Sac State, he completed a clinical rotation with one of the biggest names in sports—Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon who has worked with thousands of high-profile professional athletes. The clinical rotation helped pave the way for Jones’ sports-centered career.
“The internship with Dr. Andrews opened up a lot of doors,” Jones says. “I got a chance to work with [longtime baseball physical therapists] Kevin Wilk and Mike Reinold who are some of the biggest names in the field and I learned a lot.”
After graduation, Jones considered pursuing his doctorate until the ideal position presented itself. Sac State professor Rafael Escamilla helped him connect with Results Physical Therapy in Sacramento, where Jones got a chance to work with the Sacramento River Cats (the Oakland A’s triple-A affiliate), Sac State athletes and other high-level performers.
“I decided if I got that job, I would stick around,” Jones says. “I lucked out and got to work there. It was an unbelievable experience. I was very fortunate.”
While his background is in traditional physical therapy, Jones says he is using alternative methods more and more, with great results. Techniques like dry needling, cupping and vacuum therapy are helping athletes recover and remain healthy.
“I’ve just gotten into some of the alternative stuff and we’ve had great results with it,” he says.
Jones attends numerous professional conferences and has developed a network of friends and contacts in the industry, which helped him land the position with the Braves. Aside from working with baseball players, his facility also occasionally hosts other athletes, including NFL players and track and field pros. Working with hundreds of baseball players, Jones sees more arm injuries in a year than most physical therapists see in a lifetime.
“We see all kinds of things, but shoulders and elbows are our bread and butter,” Jones says.
As for landing his dream job, Jones insists he was lucky. But he worked hard in school, sought out the top professionals in his field and showed a passion for helping athletes get back on the field.
“I think if you want to work for a specific team, you’ve got to network in the sports world and create as many contacts as you can,” Jones says. “Professor Escamilla helped me get my foot in the door and I just lucked out. That’s how I ended up with this gig.”
This article was originally published in the Summer 2013 issue of Sac State Magazine.