Sports roots run deep
A passion for sports that began during childhood was the launchpad for Slenker and Terpstra to pursue the work they do today in the field of sports medicine.
In third grade, Terpstra came home with a “What do you want to be when you grow up?” school project. That was easy for him to answer – a sports doctor for the Phillies. Fast forward to his high school and college years, he wrestled and played football, landing his name in the Athletic Hall of Fame at Bangor High School and Muhlenberg College.
“I always loved the interaction I had with my trainers and coaches. Sports medicine is about relationships and understanding how I can work together with the athletes, coaches and trainers to navigate the waters from injury through recovery,” Terpstra says.
At Parkland High School, Slenker was team captain of the swim team. “Growing up, athletics was a really critical part of my life and development,” Slenker says.
The biggest lesson he learned in becoming a district champion swimmer was to put in the hard work. “My involvement in sports established my work ethic and gave me direction. Swimming was a springboard toward my success in medicine and eventually becoming a doctor,” Slenker says.
On the sidelines
Of all the sidelines Slenker and Terpstra stood on throughout their careers in sports medicine, they are most proud to be back in their home areas helping athletes just like themselves overcome obstacles.
It can be tough news to hear that you’ll be out for a few games or even a whole season. A sport becomes a central part of an athlete’s life, so getting injured during the season is always devastating.
“But students who go through an injury often have a great perspective on it. Athletes already have an incredible work ethic, so they are invested in their journey to healing,” Slenker says. He believes time on the field is critical as a sports medicine doctor, so he attends all basketball and football games for Lafayette.
“I love working with the high-level college athletes at Lehigh. The students are determined to do whatever they can to get better and back on the field,” Terpstra says. He works closely with the Lehigh University football and wrestling teams, attending all home games and traveling regularly for away games.
Both college team physicians help intermittently at other games for sports like lacrosse, soccer and baseball. Every week, Slenker and Terpstra also offer training rooms at their respective campuses. The training room is open to all college athletes to come and have an injury checked out, stretch or get ice.
“Students like that they can get ahold of us anytime. They’ll see us at practices, at the games or training room, and know that we are here for them and part of the team,” Terpstra says.
From defeat to victory
The greatest win is the comeback after the injury. “When you have a defeat, you get back up, you retrain and move on to prepare for the next game or season. To be on this journey is the story of the sport,” Terpstra says.