Hometown Hero: Getting back in the game with Rich Sadvar | CraigDailyPress.com

Hometown Hero: Getting back in the game with Rich Sadvar

Hometown Hero Rich Sadvar checks the pulse of the model skeleton in the front window of Craig Physical Therapy. Sadvar has worked with numerous young athletes and other patients to recover from injury since opening the practice in 2000.
Andy Bockelman

For an athlete, the worst moment of one’s life can be the uncertainty of whether or not an injury will take you out of your sport forever. It’s during that period that you’re willing to do all you can to recover properly with the help of professionals who know how to get you back in shape.

That’s where someone like Rich Sadvar comes in to do all he can to aid in the rehabilitation process.

As the owner and operator of Craig Physical Therapy, Sadvar sees all kinds of different patients in need of help to get back to their peak physical condition. Although his clients stretch from “pediatric to geriatric,” he sees a lot of former Moffat County High School sports stars looking to get back to business.

Although not everyone can realistically expect to come back from an injury and return to the gridiron, track or basketball court, Sadvar’s goal is to get them as healthy as possible.

His own history with sports helps him see things from an athlete’s point of view. The 44-year-old Craig native played football and wrestled during his time at MCHS.

He earned a master’s degree in science and physical therapy from Regis University and worked briefly in Denver before moving back to Craig, setting up shop in 2000. An undergraduate degree in education also plays into his method of working with all patients.

“There’s a huge component of teaching somebody everything going on with them, and if you can do that, it’s a lot easier to relay that wellness portion of the job,” he said.

A wall of news clippings in Sadvar’s office shows the sheer number of people he’s been able to help, many of whom were able to go from high school sports to the college level with some assistance from him.

Because of the general rigors involved in sports, not every success story has had a happy ending. Sadvar recalled an MCHS football player who suffered an ACL injury and recovered beautifully in therapy only to fall to the exact same problem once baseball season began.

“That’s one of those cases that stuck out because you get to know these kids over time,” he said. “You treat them, you know their families and you know how much athletics means to them.”

Junior Herndon first encountered Sadvar while he was playing professional baseball, which he played from 1997 to 2006, reaching the major leagues briefly in 2001 as a pitcher for the San Diego Padres. Sadvar started working with Herndon through physical therapy in 2004 while he was playing for the Kansas City Royals’ minor league team, the Wichita Wranglers, recovering from Tommy John surgery, a replacement of the pitching elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from another part of the body.

“Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to throw a baseball again,” Herndon said. “It was an 18-month process, and I was able to play one more season after my surgery.”

The two later crossed paths coaching the MCHS baseball team after Herndon returned to Craig for good. Sadvar coached high school baseball for several years, but even when he’s not in the dugout or on the sidelines with a clipboard or whistle, he still tries to be present at most local sporting events these days.

“He’s always there for the kids no matter what sport,” Herndon said. “You see him at all the games, and he’s supported the community and the kids probably better than any coach has.”

Although he never has been officially affiliated with the school district, Sadvar frequently has been called down from the stands multiple times to assist Moffat County athletes mid-game, even working with opposing players.

“If you’re there, you’ve got to just do it, you can’t just let a kid sit there and suffer,” he said.

Sadvar also helped bring forth the idea of having an official trainer available at practices and games, a service The Memorial Hospital will be implementing in the coming weeks.

Nancy Gatlin, his co-worker and girlfriend, said she thinks Sadvar’s personality is reflected in his contributions to the community.

“He has the ability to not only care about people but to take the time and make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “He’ll spend hours with these kids if there’s something they need to tweak to get back on the field, and it’s just cool that someone takes the time to do that. It’s amazing to me, because I don’t know many people like that.”

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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