Friday, Sep 11, 2015
On Saturday evening, September 12, Berry College’s football team plays its first true home game with the historic opening of the brand new football stadium - Valhalla.
As the players take the field for the 6 p.m. matchup against LaGrange, the coaches and athletes can rest assured knowing Harbin Clinic doctors are on the sidelines ready to keep the team healthy. Harbin Clinic doctors have been serving as team physicians for Berry College athletes for two decades, but the relationship between the school and the medical group goes all the way back to when Dr. Will Harbin worked with Martha Berry to keep students healthy.
Dr. Christopher Piller has served as head team physician for Vikings’ athletics over the last 12 years and has been instrumental in the program’s success.
“I’ve truly enjoyed working with Berry athletics for more than a decade,” Dr. Piller says. “During that time, I’ve watched Berry grow from a solid NAIA program to a robust Division III program. The Vikings have achieved many successes on and off the field, and it’s been a great joy to see the school add new programs like softball, football, lacrosse, swimming and track.”
Harbin Clinic Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine physicians, led by Dr. Piller, work as a team to care for all of Berry’s athletes. He is joined in the effort by Dr. Brad Bushnell and Dr. Mark Floyd, who both have deep ties to Berry.
"My personal journey with Berry football began several years ago - when I sat as an interested member on a "community survey" panel for a group of consultants that came to town to investigate the idea of football at Berry,” Dr. Brad Bushnell says. “ Since then, I have enjoyed a rare front-row seat to the internal workings of the rapid rise and early success of this program.”
Dr. Mark Floyd earned his undergraduate degree at Berry College and starred on the diamond and the tennis court for the Vikings, twice earning academic all-conference honors in baseball while also earning academic all-American honors in tennis.
“I had a great experience as an athlete at Berry, and now I get the chance to work with Berry athletes and ensure they stay healthy,” Dr. Floyd says.
“Our long-term relationships with the school shows that we are truly part of the team,” Dr. Christopher Piller says. “We don’t just watch over these athletes during the season, but we monitor them in the off-season to help prevent injuries as well.”
And while the coaches, players and fans focus on the action on the field, head football coach Tony Kunczewski says Harbin Clinic physicians give his staff one less thing to worry about.
“Having Harbin doctors on the sidelines gives us peace of mind. It’s nice to be able to tell kids and parents that if they get injured they don’t have to go home to get taken care of,” Kunczewski says. “The most compelling thing I can say about my level of trust in Harbin Clinic is that if one of my own kids gets injured, these are the doctors I take them to see.”
Athletes and coaches aim to stay healthy but injuries inevitably are part of the game.
“One of the unfortunate aspects of football is that it’s not if injuries happen, it’s more like when injuries happen. We know when our athletes are injured, we have great physicians who truly understand their needs,” Kunczewski says. “These doctors would never put any athlete in harm’s way, and they also understand the athletes that want to be back on the field as soon as possible. Harbin doctors understand the physical side and the mental side as well.”