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About Sports Health

Sports Health Guide

Sports Health

All athletes deserve the very best sports-related care and treatment that’s one-on-one and state-of-the-art. At Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, this involves conditioning to become stronger and faster, maximizing abilities, treating injuries if they do occur and improving future performance.

Our experts treat athletes in all sports, all ages and skill levels. As our patient, you have access to the same specialists who treat Cleveland’s professional sports teams and the orthopaedic program ranked #3 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Team and Event Medical Services

  • We provide team physicians and athletic trainers for professional sports teams, high schools and college athletics.
  • We offer educational opportunities for athletes, athletic trainers, physicians and coaches.
  • We provide medical care for athletes at major sporting events.

Official Team Physicians for:

Professional Teams
College Athletes
High School Athletes
  • Aurora
  • Avon
  • Avon Lake
  • Bay
  • Brecksville/Broadview Heights
  • Brunswick
  • Brush
  • Buckeye
  • Chagrin Falls
  • Cloverleaf
  • Cuyahoga Heights
  • Elyria Catholic
  • Euclid
  • Fairview
  • Garfield Heights
  • Independence
  • Kenston
  • Keystone
  • Lake Catholic
  • Lakewood
  • Lorain
  • Lutheran West
  • Magnificat
  • Maple Heights
  • Mayfield
  • Medina
  • Midview
  • Nordonia
  • North Olmstead
  • Orange
  • Padua
  • Rocky River
  • Shaker Heights
  • St. Edward
  • St. Ignatius
  • St. Joseph Academy
  • Solon
  • Trinity
  • Vermilion
  • Warrensville Heights
  • Wellington
  • Westlake
  • Wickliffe
Other Partners
Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Greater Cleveland Triathlon, Mid-American Conference, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Courage Award is an honor given annually by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Sports Health at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards banquet each January. It is awarded to a student athlete who has faced a medical challenge in his or her life and approached the situation with courage and determination to get back into the game.

2014 Courage Award

If you know a student athlete who has overcome a medical challenge in his or her life and would like to submit them for the 2014 Courage Award nominate them today.

Previous Courage Award Recipients

2013 Award Recipient: Courtney Belmonte, Westlake High School, Cheerleading
Courteney Belmonte

Courteney Belmonte

Courteney's Courage: Competitive Cheerleading Returns After Scoliosis

At age 12, Courteney Belmonte already was a veteran cheerleader. But the flips, twists and other demanding athletic moves she had to execute effortlessly for years suddenly weren't so easy.

A school medical test showed she wasn't able to bend over as far as other students. Her doctor's diagnosis was a shock. Courteney had scoliosis, a deformity often affecting adolescent girls that gradually warps the spine. If it's not corrected, scoliosis causes posture, movement and medical problems.

A long recovery

Surgery can realign the spine, but it's a major operation. Metal rods are affixed to the spinal bones with screws, and bone grafts fuse the vertebrae into their straightened position. Full recovery typically takes a year. While patients often can return to strenuous athletics, it's not a certainty.

"Probably the most difficult aspect for children is the activity restrictions during recovery," said Cleveland Clinic pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Ryan Goodwin, MD, who performed Courteney's more than 12-hour operation in 2008.

The day after surgery, Courteney was up and walking. "At first we thought (her recovery) was going to be slow and painful, but nothing gets her down," said her father Tony. "She refused a lot of help. She said, 'I want to do this on my own.'"

"It was a step-by-step process, and I had to start at some point," Courteney said. Although Dr. Goodwin had told her it probably would probably be a year before she could resume cheerleading, she resolved to make it happen sooner. She worked hard at rehabilitation.

Back to the gym

Six months after Courteney's surgery, her persistence paid off. Dr. Goodwin gave her the green light to return to competitive cheerleading.

The day Courteney got the news, her parents drove her to the gym to join her teammates' practice. "Being back in the gym had never felt like such a relief," she said.

Courteney's determination earned her the 2013 Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Courage Award, presented annually to athlete who has overcome adversity.

"You've just got to remember, keep pushing for what you want," said Courteney, currently a senior at Westlake High School. "It's OK to be scared," but "you should always try."

2012 Award Recipient: Molly Miller, Notre Dame Academy, Soccer
Molly Miller

Molly Miller

Cancer has been a part of Molly Miller’s life for as long as she can remember. Molly’s father, Phil, was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was just three years old. But there is another constant in Molly’s life: sports. With two athletically-gifted older brothers, Molly was thrown into a competition-dominated world almost instantly. So much so that her older brothers would avoid competing against her, fearful of what would happen if Molly didn’t win.

Phil and his wife, Jane, taught Molly and her brothers to never feel sorry for themselves. Molly credits this lesson with helping her get through the pain of losing her father at the age of 11.

Nineteen months after Phil’s death, a lump in Molly’s axillary began to grow. The lump had been there for most of Molly’s life and Phil’s experience had taught Jane to check it often. When the mass became enlarged, a biopsy was performed and Dr. Steve Lietman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Orthopaedic Musculoskeletal Tumor Center, delivered some difficult news. Molly had a low grade fibromyxoid sarcoma – a rare form of cancer.

Despite being told that her treatment would not resemble her father’s and no chemotherapy was needed, Molly was still scared. She leaned on her strong relationships with her family to help calm some of her fears. An operation performed by Dr. Lietman removed the remaining portion of the tumor. Despite not needing chemotherapy, Molly had a long road ahead. In order for her surgical area to heal properly, Molly would not be able to play sports for the better part of a year. One constant in Molly’s life had removed the other.

Despite having sports taken from her, Molly remained upbeat, knowing her absence from the field was only temporary. Her competitive personality was stronger than ever, fueling her drive to make sports once again a constant in her life. After taking almost a year off, Molly returned to the soccer field and made the varsity team as a freshman at Notre Dame Academy.

According to Dr. Lietman, the cure rate for someone with Molly’s form of cancer is 80 percent. If the sarcoma does come back, it will resurface in her lungs. Each time Molly has a follow-up appointment, she must face the possibility of being told her cancer has returned.

Falling back on her parent’s lessons, Molly never felt sorry for herself. She approached her surgery and each follow-up appointment at the Cleveland Clinic with a positive and calm demeanor. Cancer has forever changed Molly’s life. Yet through the ups and downs, the tears and the smiles, Molly has faced each challenge with courage and determination.

It is this courageous and inspiring attitude that led the nurses, doctors and staff of the Cleveland Clinic to award Molly the Courage Award presented by Cleveland Clinic Sports Health at the 2012 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on January 24 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel Grand Ballroom.

2011 Award Recipient: Brandee Kelly, Cleveland State University, Basketball

Brandee Kelly

Brandee’s determination in overcoming lymphoma earned her the admiration of her teammates, coaches, family, friends and medical team at Cleveland Clinic and led to her receiving the 2011 Cleveland Clinic Courage Award. The award recognizes exceptional student athletes who face difficult medical challenges with courage and determination.

Cleveland State University’s Brandee Kelly thought the pain she felt in her lower back during the start of games in her first season might just be due to the grind of a Division I women’s basketball career.

Intense pain sent her to the emergency room where a battery of tests revealed abnormal growths in Brandee’s back, pelvis and leg. After seeing the images, head team physician, Susan Joy, MD, of Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, arranged a biopsy of Brandee’s pelvic bone and referral to an oncologist.

Cleveland Clinic oncologist Brad Pohlman, MD, shared with Brandee the news that the pain was being caused by the mass in her back, which was lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects cells of the immune system. In her case, it was found in her bone marrow, and it was spreading throughout her body.

Lymphoma found in young patients can be aggressive and deadly. Treatment would require an intensive regimen of chemotherapy, but there was hope for a full recovery. Brandee says at first she was devastated. She could not understand why a young, active woman would have cancer. But the somberness didn’t last long. The winning spirit that led Brandee to be valedictorian of Beaumont High in St. Louis and a prized recruit for the Vikings defined her cancer treatment.

Accompanied by family members and close friend Monica Daniels, Brandee began the first in a series of chemotherapy treatments that would span four months. Brandee battled through the side effects: intense nausea, vomiting, fatigue and hair loss. Each time she finally began to feel better, she would return to the clinic for another round of treatment.

She said she has always been a positive person. Her cancer experience was a test of that attitude, and she did not waver. Brandee missed only a few weeks of school; she even returned to take final exams and she passed them all.

For her final treatment, with her prognosis for beating cancer seemingly strong, Brandee’s Cleveland State teammates and coaches joined her as she rang the ceremonial bell at Taussig Cancer Institute. The bell gives notice to everyone in the building that a patient has completed a final treatment session. It also signaled to Vikings fans that a healthy, cancer-free Brandee would be returning to the floor for her sophomore season.

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  • Orthopaedics & Rheumatology: 866.275.7496
  • Sports Health: 877.440.TEAM (8326)

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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