BALTIMORE, Md.—For Ricky White, joining the staff of a professional athletic team is something he never imagined—especially after suffering a traumatic shoulder injury that eclipsed his burgeoning college football career.
After four years at Fresno State University, the Riverside, California native had visions of reaching the professional ranks prior to the injury.
“The injury turned out to open a whole new world for me,” said White, who was named Strength and Conditioning coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates in January 2016.
Following his football injury (nerve damage to his shoulder), his strength coach at Fresno State, Steve Sobonya, suggested that White pursue a new field of study. “Coach said he always noticed my work ethic and that was a trait that could be transferable to other athletes,” reflected White, a running back who originally majored in criminology. After becoming adept at helping his fellow athletes with their physical conditioning, White changed his major to Kinesiology and pursued a new career.
“Before the injury, I really had hopes of making the NFL, but in retrospect, I really enjoy this line of work. And no, I never played baseball—not even as a youth—but my job is to make sure all these guys stay physically-fit enough to do their jobs on a daily basis,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier.
His job entails working with individual players on free weights, nautilus equipment, range of motion and flexible rubber bands to isolate different muscles. Unlike other athletes, baseball players aren’t focused on one particular muscle group—they’re always on their feet, so they’re focused on their feet, their core, hip flexers, strong backs, and rotator cup muscles. “It’s vital to keep their bodies in balance as much as you can,” White said.