Sports-related programs have been part of Sanford Health for nearly 25 years. In that time, those efforts have evolved and expanded in ways that have redefined how communities in the region live active lifestyles.
Recently, all those endeavors were grouped together under the name “Sanford Sports” with the goal to deliver an open-ended invitation to change the way you play. It extends to all abilities, all goals and all ages, and it comes with expert advice and world-class facilities.
More than 1 million athlete contacts took place in the last year at Sanford facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and California. Those experiences cover a lot of ground in a geographic sense but even more in an athletic sense.
Helping athletes of all interests and abilities
This diversity of services in sports has long been a Sanford hallmark. The recent rebranding of those offerings to Sanford Sports serves to remind us that making active lifestyles more accessible originates with one enterprise-wide belief: Everyone is an athlete.
“Sports will engage more individuals, more families and more communities in a shared activity than any other cultural movement in today’s society,” said Steve Young, president of Sanford Sports. “We’re here to create that ‘meet people where they’re at’ opportunity.”
So why did it make sense to present all Sanford’s athletic-related efforts under one name?
Part of what makes Sanford Sports distinctive is its integration of science-backed programs, facilities and a team of athletic training, event and safety experts. Sorting through those opportunities, however, could be a challenge. Moving forward it will be much easier.
“The offerings at the Sanford Sports Complex alone — plus the other offerings we have throughout the Sanford footprint in the region — needed a flag, a rallying cry,” Young said. “We needed to say, ‘This is what encompasses Sanford Sports, and this is how you can go ahead and get access to the events, to the programming, to the academy and to the teams.’”
One Sanford Sports website
It starts with the Sanford Sports website, which serves as a hub and gives one access to:
- Athletic development for all ages
- Sport-specific skill instruction
- Teams, leagues and tournaments
- Orthopedics and sports medicine
- Sports science research
- Information about signature athletic events like the Sanford International golf tournament and marquee basketball games at Sanford Pentagon
A click on sanfordsports.com can be a gateway to easily navigated answers to questions about sports-related services and programs. It can be where someone goes to find out how Sanford Sports can make them a better golfer, or where an extremely motivated college athlete goes to look for a competitive edge.
In both cases, and in everything in between, Sanford Sports is shaped with the understanding that everyone engages in sports a little differently.
“The biggest thing to remember is that we’re still providing the same level of care that we always have,” said Melissa Moyer, director of therapy and rehabilitation of Sanford Sports. “This is about being part of one team.”
For instance, let’s say an athlete is injured while competing and in the minutes after is treated by a Sanford certified athletic trainer. The athlete is then referred to a Sanford doctor or a physical therapist and will have access, via Sanford Sports, to a distinctive continuity of care.
“We really pride ourselves on having experts in every area,” said Moyer, a physical therapist. “It’s easy to refer back and forth to each of those experts. We work so closely together on that continuum of performance that we can get our patients, or athletes, to the right provider who can help them recover quickest. It’s really something that sets Sanford Sports apart.”
One team, many experts
The team includes experts like Kyle Kudrna, a lead strength and conditioning specialist at Sanford Sports Performance, a 21,000-square-foot facility that addresses the needs of athletes with sports-specific and athletic-specific training methods.
“Sanford Sports” for Kudrna and his colleagues includes work with children and adults in both sports development and athletic development. The distinction between these two avenues of improvement can be confusing but point toward both the depth and width of what “Sanford Sports” means to the community in Bismarck.
“The best analogy I use to explain it is describing someone buying a car,” Kudrna said. “It has a motor, it has wheels — it has everything it needs to run. In athletic development, they’re asking themselves how they can upgrade that engine and the tires and make it a better-performing vehicle.”
Athletic development does not teach an athlete how to drive the vehicle. Sanford Sports has another staff in place for that element in improving.
“That’s where a sports coach comes in,” Kudrna said. “That’s where we’re teaching things like swinging a bat better or learning how to grip a baseball before you throw it off the mound.”
Sanford Sports programs in Bismarck, North Dakota, operate in coordination with Sanford’s orthopedics sports medicine, certified athletic trainers and distinctive return-to-performance programs designed to bridge the gap for injured athletes who are making the transition from physical therapy back to going full speed.
“Every time we get the opportunity to talk to kids and their parents, we try to educate them to make better decisions about how to get better,” said Kudrna, a former assistant director of athletic performance at the University of Memphis and at the University of New Mexico. “Parents want the best for the kids, and kids just want to get better at what they do. All the intentions are good. It’s our job to guide that process along and show them the right direction.”
Moyer has two daughters involved in Sanford Sports. To date this includes volleyball, golf, cross country and sports performance.
Recently one of Moyer’s daughters wore a Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine shirt to her middle school as part of a homecoming week event. On that day, students were encouraged to dress up as what they wanted to be when they grow up.
“She wants to be a doctor,” Moyer said. “She tells me, ‘I want to be involved in Sanford Sports. I’m not sure how, exactly, but it’s going to be in sports. Those people have fun and that’s where I feel good being.’”
Opportunities for more athletes
Moyer’s children will have additional opportunities for sports with the 18 new Sanford outdoor FieldTurf playing fields in Sioux Falls. These fields cover 1.7 million square feet and will, yet again, redefine Sanford Sports’ impact in the region.
“Through the gracious gift of Denny Sanford, these fields are here for our kids to learn and enjoy wellness,” Moyer said. “They can enjoy being part of teams and developing confidence. Even if they’re not the best athlete out there, there are still tons of opportunities for them to be involved. In the end it’s about kids continuing to build on these foundations of health and wellness within the community.”
That applies to children seeking opportunities to play organized sports as well as adults seeking more active lifestyles. It’s a one-stop shop with an elite level of commitment to the region.
Young, a former college football player at the University of South Dakota who has spent much of his career as a physical therapist, supports a wide-open definition of who Sanford Sports can help.
“Everybody is an athlete,” Young said. “Our job isn’t to judge. Our job is, take you where you are today and help you get where you want to go. We want to encourage a transformation. If we do that enough times throughout society, we’re going to enhance community well-being.”
- Sanford supports women and girls in sports
- Pro-level coaching open to all abilities at Sanford Sports
- Army of athletic trainers keeps athletes safe at Sanford