Sadie Bell, 13, loves sports. At Nimitz Middle School in San Antonio, she’s a proud member of the Seahawks’ basketball, volleyball and track teams. Outside of school sports, soccer is her passion, and she dreams of playing for Texas A&M University, where both her parents graduated.
All of which makes getting a routine sports physical mighty important for the incoming eighth-grader.
“Without the physical I can’t play any sport, and they mean so much to me,” Sadie explained.
While it may seem simple, obtaining a sports physical isn’t always easy for students at Nimitz, a Title I school, meaning a high percentage of children come from low-income families. So when Jennifer Hall, assistant athletic coordinator who oversees girls athletics at Nimitz, contacted UT Health San Antonio about needing volunteers to conduct the physicals, the faculty-physicians stepped up.
Sadie and more than 300 of her classmates, all incoming seventh- and eighth-graders, received free sports physicals at their school May 29 from six UT Health San Antonio doctors, allowing the kids to compete in summer camps and fall sports.
“This is a situation where you get to give back to the community by helping them make sure their kids are healthy and can play sports,” said Ramon Cancino, M.D., M.Sc., director of the Primary Care Center at UT Health San Antonio and one of the doctors volunteering at Nimitz. “I think it’s great to be able to develop a relationship with a middle school. And it’s an opportunity to help some kids get back into playing sports. It’s really a good feeling for a physician to be able to tell a kid, yes, you can go play sports.”
Robert Barrientes, the Nimitz athletic coordinator who oversees boys athletics, said that without UT Health San Antonio it would be very difficult for many Nimitz students to obtain physicals.
“The kids would now have the burden to go and get a physical on their own, meaning parents would possibly have to take time from work and their busy schedule to go … and at a pretty high cost as well,” Barrientes said. “Many of our kids come from a one-parent household and they might only have one vehicle, which makes it all the more difficult.”
Unfortunately, he added, it was not unusual in the past for many students to miss the start of their particular sport or not be allowed to play at all because they were never able to get a physical. That won’t happen this year, he said.
“Sports is a big part of these kids’ lives,” Barrientes said. “It’s the reason many of them even want to come to school.”
Hall praised the doctors and staff at UT Health San Antonio.
“It’s been incredible, the turnout we’ve had, the response from UT Health and the willingness to just jump on board with our community and help these kids out,” she said. “The partnership has been pretty easy, and that goes back to the professionals who work for UT Health San Antonio.”
Another Nimitz student headed into eighth grade, Kafiya Aden, said she’s also aiming for a starring sports role at a big-time university. She plays volleyball, basketball and runs track.
“I like sports. I like running,” she said. “It gets my mind off of things. If I’m nervous or something’s bothering me, I run.”
And, she said, she’s very grateful to the UT Health physicians who helped push her dream, and the dreams of her classmates, a bit further along.
In addition to Dr. Cancino, other UT Health San Antonio physicians providing physicals at Nimitz included Cordelia Moscrip, M.D., Virgen Rodriguez-Perez, M.D., Jennefer Sutton, M.D., Rajen Patel, M.D., and Bentley Michael, M.D.