James Creps will celebrate the summer with frequent 12-hour-work days, often staying at his office from noon to midnight. He will play a key role in the day-to-day and long-term work lives of dozens of people.
And how does Creps feel about the pressure-packed and intense days ahead? He's relishing it, as his office is one of the most storied baseball parks in American history.
Creps, a recent UM-Flint professor, has taken a job with the Boston Red Sox. He is the senior physical therapist and clinical specialist for the Major League Baseball team. The work has already begun as the Michigan native evaluates and monitors the players during spring training in Fort Myers, Florida.
"It's amazing," Creps said, summing up his job in the big leagues. And he credits his years at UM-Flint for playing a critical role in preparing him for the Red Sox job.
Spending his days at the historic Fenway Park wasn't on Creps radar last fall. He received an unsolicited e-mail from the team to see if he was interested, after he was recommended to the Red Sox by colleagues in the profession.
Creps initially said thank you, but no thank you. He loved his role at UM-Flint and didn't want to travel across the country during a long baseball season. But the team and Creps talked and reached an agreement. He would stay at Fenway Park and treat players there, including when the team traveled on the road. His visit and interview sealed the deal.
"The facilities within the ballpark itself are phenomenal. They have state of the art techniques and equipment, therapy room, and gym. It will be like running a clinic right in the park."
Creps will work directly with the 40-player roster, and provide training to the sports medicine team with the Red Sox and for all of the franchise's farm teams.
Creps credited his years at UM-Flint for helping to prepare him. The Flint campus is home to the University of Michigan system's physical therapy program.
"There are so many things that I was exposed to during my time at UM-Flint that are proving helpful in my current job duties," Creps said. "Key among those things is the training that I received in the evidence-based practice of physical therapy."
Gaining a competitive advantage in any sport is centered around completing practices that are proven to be effect at improving performance and facilitating recovery. I became an expert at distilling what information was valid and efficacious during my time at UM-Flint."
He started at UM-Flint in 2009. Creps was a clinical associate professor, and associate director of post professional programs for the physical therapy department at UM-Flint. He was a Boyer Faculty Scholar for 2015-16 for his research involving patients at PT Heart. Creps and a team of DPT students collected data from patients at the student led pro bono clinic run by the university at the North End Soup Kitchen. This information, including treatment plan restrictions and prior medical conditions, was gathered to better serve the patients accessing care at the clinic.
Creps said physical therapy students, faculty, and others involved with the program enhanced his skills with their commitment, ideas and talents.
"I think physical therapists are unique people. They are smart, well educated, extremely proactive and positive. That whole disposition permeated through the faculty here. That's why this program is so successful," he said.
Creps, a lifelong Tigers fan, said he hasn't been catching any flack for working for Boston.
"The Red Sox are such a storied franchise that even if you are a Tigers fan you can appreciate how cool it is to take in a Red Sox game," he said.
Working with the players is a professional thrill, Creps said.
"They are all extraordinary athletes," Creps said. "Baseball is a long season. Something that wouldn't create a problem if you are only doing it once a week becomes a problem when you are doing it four or five times a week."
He will help them stay healthy, or recover from injuries, through treatment plans.
Creps said despite his new job, it was very difficult to leave UM-Flint. As he spends time on the job, he'll look into opportunities to take the information he's learning in the MLB setting to help educate entry-level DPT students.
"Not only are UM-Flint students bright, but they are well educated and motivated. That is what made my job so much fun. Teaching graduate school is very gratifying because the students that are here want to be here, and they have a vision of what they want to accomplish," Creps said. "The mentorship that I provided the students, and the relationships that developed from that, I will miss tremendously. It was an extraction for me to pull myself out of that environment."